Fees jump in 2012

The only increase expected in the Auglaize County coroner’s budget for 2012 is an increase in autopsy fees.
Coroner Dr. Thomas Freytag requested an increase of $3,000 to $28,000 in contract services for fees paid for autopsies which are sent elsewhere.
A contract with the Lucas County Coroner’s Office for autopsy services during 2012 charges $1,200 per autopsy including routine toxicology, travel reimbursement at the current IRS standard mileage business rate, and responsibility for transportation to and from the Lucas County facility.
No other increases were reflected in the coroner’s $75,536 budget for 2012, while the equipment line item decreased by $1,000 to zero.
Freytag said the $100
increase per autopsy is the first time rates have increased in five or six years.
In 2011, Freytag handled 71 cases, 29 of which were deemed coroner cases, of which 15 autopsies were ordered.
“Usually about half of what makes a coroner case is autopsied,” Freytag said.
Cases this year included seven accidents, three suicides, a homicide, and the first SIDS case he had seen in more than five years. A fall resulted in one death and two deaths (one suicide and one accident) involved a train. Three cases are still pending autopsy results.
“Remarkably, it’s the same ratios, the same numbers every year,” Freytag said.
He said a couple of cases required more toxicology studies, which made them more expensive.
“We are finding a lot more drug-related deaths than we used to,” said Freytag, who said those deaths are being caused not by recreational drug use but mixing prescription medications. “It’s gotten to be a problem throughout the country.” Freytag noted prescription drug abuse is increasing in frequency as people are taking several different medications at a time.
An online prescription drug monitoring tool helps physicians better keep track of what other drugs someone may be prescribed but isn’t available out-of-state and in other locations where they may be going to get the medications.
“The law is making it more difficult,” Freytag said. “Family doctors have to work together and call each other.”