AP NEWS

Kentucky seeks relief as autopsy requests surge

April 30, 2018 GMT
Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley speaks with a reporter about a plan to deal with an increase of autopsy requests on Monday, April 30, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The State Medical Examiner’s Office is partnering with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. The office’s nine doctors have the option of becoming university employees. Tilley said he new model will let the stage hire more doctors. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)
Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley speaks with a reporter about a plan to deal with an increase of autopsy requests on Monday, April 30, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The State Medical Examiner’s Office is partnering with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. The office’s nine doctors have the option of becoming university employees. Tilley said he new model will let the stage hire more doctors. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — As the opioid epidemic rages across Appalachia, one grim consequence has played out in Kentucky’s medical examiner’s office: A staggering increase in autopsy requests.

Autopsy requests for overdose deaths have jumped more than 26 percent since 2013.

The increase has overwhelmed the State Medical Examiner’s Office, which consists of nine doctors for the entire state. And it comes amid a national shortage of forensic pathologists.

Monday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration announced a partnership with the state’s public universities to offer some relief. The state hopes to move its forensic pathologists to the payrolls of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

The doctors would still perform autopsies and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet would still pay their salaries. If the doctors agree to go, they would exit the state’s troubled pension system.