The opioid epidemic that has claimed so many lives in Maryland is overwhelming the state medical examiner's office.
The agency has exceeded national caseload standards — the number of autopsies a single pathologist should perform in a year — in each of the past four years. The office now risks losing its accreditation.
"Everyone continues to add on work hours and work faster and hopefully not take short cuts," said Dr. David R. Fowler, Maryland's chief medical examiner. "They absorb this extra load. But there is a point where they can't continue to add to that and expect the system will function."
The challenge is not limited to Maryland. The combination of additional and more complex cases is overwhelming medical examiners' offices across the country, particularly along the East Coast, leaving many on the verge of losing accreditation.