KANSAS CITY, MO – The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office does “one of the best jobs in the country of providing ME services,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell, the Chief Medical Examiner from Washington, D.C. He was so impressed while inspecting the ME’s office on behalf of the National Association of Medical Examiners, that he flew to Kansas City to personally present the NAME accreditation certificate to Jackson County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Dudley and County Executive Mike Sanders.
During the accreditation visit to Jackson County, NAME inspectors found zero deficiencies on a checklist of more than 350 items. Mitchell says that is “exceptional.”
“Believe me, I tried to find a deficiency,” Mitchell said during this afternoon’s Jackson County Legislative meeting. “We want to make sure that we don’t hand out zero deficiencies in a way that just anyone can get them.”
Jackson County is home to the only NAME-accredited medical examiner’s office in Missouri.
“This accreditation means our ME’s office is not only meeting, but exceeding the highest professional standards,” said County Executive Sanders. “The fact that the inspectors found zero deficiencies is a testament to the good work and good leadership in the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office.”
In a letter to Dr. Dudley announcing the accreditation renewal, Dr. David R. Fowler, chairman of the NAME Inspection and Accreditation Committee, stated, “NAME accredited offices represent the highest quality of [the] death investigation system. The citizens can be proud of the hard work, dedication and leadership made by you and your staff in attaining this accreditation.”
A reflection of NAME’s appreciation for the quality of work being done in the Jackson County ME’s Office can be found on the association’s website. Members logging in to download samples of how best to draft and implement policies will be shown documents from Jackson County, Missouri.
“I like that,” said Dr. Dudley proudly.
She anticipates accreditation eventually becoming required nationwide. She pointed out in most Missouri counties the elected coroner can, despite possibly having no medical training, issue death certificates and determine when an autopsy is necessary. “In one county a high school student was elected coroner,” she said.
Dr. Dudley believes it is only a matter of time before the system changes. The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office already provides death investigations” for Cass, Clay and Platte counties. All told, 26 different counties have referred cases to the Jackson County ME’s Office in recent years.
“By being accredited, I think we’re ahead of the curve,” Dr. Dudley said. “Obviously, not every county can get accredited. They don’t have the staff or the facilities. We do. I think you’re going to see medical examiner offices like Jackson County’s become more regional.”