N.H. Attorney General: State Needs Another Medical Examiner To Deal With Opioid Deaths

Nov 22, 2016

Reporter Paige Sutherland took this photo of the case backlog at the New Hampshire crime lab in September
Credit Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The Attorney General's office wants to hire another medical examiner to help deal with the spike in drug-related deaths.

New Hampshire's two full-time medical examiners have taken 486 cases so far this year. That puts them on pace to exceed professional guidelines around how many autopsies examiners should perform per year. Most of the backlog is due to drug overdose deaths, which are expected to top 500 this year.

The backlog is so large that Chief Medical Examiner Thomas Andrew says he's just now working on a death from July.

The justice department wants to hire a third medical examiner as part of the next two-year state budget. Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said New Hampshire pays its medical examiners lower salaries than other states.