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Despite questions, bill could again allow contract autopsies

(AP) — Some Mississippi lawmakers want to start allowing coroners to hire private pathologists to perform autopsies again, even though counties’ previous use of private autopsies attracted scrutiny.

The Senate Judiciary A Committee on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 2400, sending it to the full Senate for further debate. The measure would set up a three-year pilot program allowing coroners in Harrison, Itawamba, Lee and Warren counties to hire private pathologists from a list designated by the state medical examiner.

Sen. Chad McMahan, a Guntown Republican sponsoring the measure, told committee members it’s needed because the state medical examiner’s office is running far behind on completing autopsies. State officials have struggled to hire pathologists, citing a crushing workload and relatively low salaries. Right now, the state has only two medical examiners. The Department of Public Safety opposes the measure.