Donoghue's dilemma is being faced by coroners and medical examiners all across the country.
Donoghue, a lifelong Chicagoan, is moving to Savannah, Ga., where he'll serve as a regional medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation....
Until recently, he said, he was only contemplating retirement. But proposed budget cuts in Cook County - he oversees an office with an $8.6 million budget to process about 10,000 death certificates and perform about 4,000 autopsies annually - tipped the decision, he said.
"They say stick to your core mission, but we don't really have any elective programs," said Donoghue, who fears a proposed 17 percent cut would delay the release of bodies to funeral homes and processing of death certificates.
Toxicology tests, which now take 60 to 90 days and are crucial to criminal investigations, also might take longer if the office is not properly funded, Donoghue said....
The delay of a death certificate can have a huge negative financial effect (almost all financial processes after a death require a death certificate) on a family already struggling with the loss of a loved one.
The next time someone tells you that what coroners and MEs do can wait, because its all about dead people who aren't going anywhere, think of those families.
And you might also think about how many lives may have been saved over the last two decades by tamper-resistant packaging -- in 1982, Donoghue's office discovered that seven mysterious deaths were caused by a malicious person who placed Tylenol tainted with cyanide on grocery store shelves, where it was bought and taken by unsuspecting consumers.