Pettis County contracts with MU for autopsy services

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | 4:03 p.m. CDT; updated 4:10 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MU’s School of Medicine is extending a helping hand to Pettis County by providing medical examiner services.

Pettis County will pay MU $15,000 through Dec. 31, 2008 for the services and must transport bodies to the medical examiner’s office. The contract started Aug. 1, 2007.

Performing an autopsy is an expensive procedure and, like most small counties, Pettis County doesn’t have the resources to provide autopsies.

“It opens a lot of doors for us,” said Robert Smith, Pettis County’s coroner. “We can provide those services more often.”

Before signing the contract with MU, Smith had to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to have autopsies performed.

“Anytime there is going to be a legal issue, you perform an autopsy,” Smith said.

In the past, Pettis paid about $1,300 for each body they sent to MU for an autopsy. Smith said there are an average of 300 deaths in Pettis County each year, but only a small percentage require autopsies.

Pettis County is the third county to contract with MU’s School of Medicine for medical examiner services. Boone and Callaway Counties have contracted with MU for autopsy services since 1978.

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