- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - The medical examiner’s office in Ohio’s largest county is tightening reporting protocols after it found dozens of errors from a former forensic chemist.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office found at least 27 mistakes made by the chemist, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported (https://bit.ly/1LcCrxi) Thursday.

Office administrator Hugh Shannon said the lab has since enacted stricter reporting standards. Every sample must be photographed, and analysts now must write detailed descriptions of the substances.

A discipline letter says the chemist was caught when a sample was retested that the chemist had inaccurately said did not contain drugs.

The office is investigating thousands of cases the chemist had analyzed dating back to January 2013. He was fired July 6. None of his supervisors are facing discipline.

The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, a national organization that accredits forensic laboratories in drug testing and other categories, has been notified of the errors. It is unclear if the Cuyahoga County office’s accreditation will be affected.

The office has until October to report the results of its investigation.

It would probably take evidence of problems throughout the office for any accrediting board to revoke a license, said Maryland Chief Medical Examiner Dave Fowler, who is also the vice president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.

He said he’s never had to fire technicians in his laboratory who have committed errors, but that he has had to retrain them.

“The system is designed to identify errors, because we know errors are going to occur,” Fowler said. “If it was always perfect, you’d never need to do this.”

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Information from: Northeast Ohio Media Group, https://www.cleveland.com


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