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Oklahoma ME's office has doubled number of pathologists, chief says

The agency is seeking funding that would pay for three additional doctors, which would give the medical examiner's office 14 doctors, up from five a year ago.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: January 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013
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The state medical examiner's office has doubled the number of pathologists on staff in the past year and is seeking money to hire at least three more, which is crucial to win back national accreditation, the chief medical examiner told a legislative panel Thursday.

Dr. Eric Pfeifer, the chief medical examiner, said the agency has 10 pathologists on staff and is hoping soon to have another on board.

The agency needs at least 14 pathologists to be considered for accreditation, he told members of the Senate budget subcommittee on public safety and judiciary. The agency in 2009 lost its accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners, which cited facility and staffing deficiencies.

Pfeifer, who was hired nearly two years ago, is seeking an additional $2.2 million to pay for three additional pathologists as well as the purchase of necessary equipment.

The agency received $7.2 million from legislators for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Its office in Tulsa needs to be upgraded and its Oklahoma City headquarters should be replaced, he said.

A special audit in 2010 said the medical examiner office's 30-year-old building lacked sufficient space for staff and agency operations.

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