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Onondaga County using outside help to perform autopsies

Onondaga County Health Department

There were more than 150 additional autopsies performed in Onondaga County in 2016 compared to two years ago. The county is contracting medical examiners from New York City to handle some of the casework.

The Onondaga County Health Department said outside help is needed to make up for a county medical examiner position that was vacated last year. Some of the salary from that position, which can range from around $150,000-$200,000 is going towards paying for the contracts. At a rate of $1,200 per autopsy, performing those 150 additional autopsies alone would fall in the range of a salaried position.

Here are some other contracted rates from the health department: 

  • $200.00 per 24 hour period on call
  • $250.00 per scene visit callout
  • $ 700.00 per external (view) examination

The health department said more autopsies were performed primarily as a result of drug-related deaths. But, they said that higher number is not affecting the need to increase the contracts with outside pathologists. The health department said it is actively working to recruit a new county medical examiner.
The health department's annual report found that 956 autopsies were performed in 2016 compared to 847 in 2015, and 797 in 2014.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.