Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 2018
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2018 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Meredith Cohn


The state medical examiner's office, which has been stretched by the
opioid overdose epidemic, let some compliance issues slip in recent
years, potentially costing the state extra money, according to a
routine review by state auditors.

The audit, spanning three and a half years and ending in September,
found that the office didn't not follow required competitive bidding
processes in purchasing some medical supplies, wasn't properly
monitoring mileage charged by vendors to transport bodies and was not
properly restricting employee access to the office's payment system.

In each case, the medical examiner's office agreed with the findings
and reported new procedures were in place to correct the problems.

Specifically, the audit checked 10 percent of more than 4,300 bodies
transported and found more than a third had overbilled, amounting to
about $3,000 in extra charges. The audit also found about 20 percent
of the $1.9 million in supplies bought during the period audited were
not competitively bid, making it unclear if the state got the best
deal. And four of 35 employees with access to the payment system
should have had no access or more limited access to do their jobs.

The office generally has experienced significant strain as the number
of autopsies has mounted amid the epidemic of opioid-related overdoses
and was struggling to perform its duties in a timely manner. The
office was under threat of losing its accreditation because each
medical examiner was performing too many autopsies. The accreditation
is necessary for legal and public trust in the findings.

After a Baltimore Sun report last year on the office's problems, the
state granted the office more examiner positions.
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