Backlog of death investigations comes to Lubbock County Commissioners for consideration

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Lubbock County Commissioners Court 720

LUBBOCK, Texas — The Lubbock County Commissioners Court on Monday heard an update on the local backlog of autopsies.

Acting Chief Administrator Medical Examiner Dr. John Lang said there were more than 200 cases pending from the time when National Autopsy of Attorneys General [NAAG] operated the office of medical examiner.

“All of those have been completed as of November 26,” he said. “The backlog is being resolved as quickly as possible.”

During that presentation, Lang said there was no backlog left over from 2013 before NAAG was hired. But there was still a backlog from NAAG with approximately 190-plus cases. Current autopsies go to Tarrant County and take about 24 hours to be conducted, he said.

Lang was confirmed as the Acting Chief Medical Examiner on October 7 by county commissioners.

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The county commissioners also approved an agreement to authorize the county judge to sign with NAAG Pathology Labs PC regarding completion of open autopsy cases and the return of tissue specimens.

Lang said NAAG is working to return the tissue specimen samples back to Lubbock County. But once they return to Lubbock County, nothing can be done (at least for now), due to an investigation of NAAG by the FBI and the Texas Rangers.

In September, FBI agents and Texas Rangers raided the office of Lubbock County Medical Examiner. It’s not clear who, if anyone, has been charged with a crime related to that raid.

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The investigation will have to be completed first, then autopsies can go forward, said Lang.

“Since October 1, a total of 73 decedents have been sent to Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office,” he said. “Of those 73, there’s currently 54 open reports.”

Lang said once the rest of them the reports come back, he will process both the report and the death certificate within 24 hours so that there will never be a backlog again.

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