September 5, 2018 | Number of The Day
Budget of NJ’s newly centralized office of the chief state medical examiner

As of this month, New Jersey has a centralized office of the chief state medical officer. It is tasked with overseeing the entire medical examiner system, which comprises two regional offices and eight county facilities, has a budget of $12.7 million, and employs a staff of 97.

The office is in but not part of the state Department of Health and is headed by Dr. Andrew L. Falzon, the chief state medical examiner.

Until this change, New Jersey’s network of medical examiners was a decentralized system that fell under the attorney general. The state ME had direct control of a few offices, but not all.

The chief ME and Dr. Shereef Elnahal, New Jersey health commissioner, have identified five key areas of focus:

  • modernizing and standardizing protocols across the medical examiner system;
  • establishing oversight of regional medical examiners to ensure standard practices;
  • standardizing data and reporting public-health priorities such as the opioid epidemic;
  • modernizing the state toxicology laboratory, which currently performs postmortem and law enforcement drug testing
  • publishing an annual report on the system’s performance.
  • The chief state medical examiner also has the power to intervene in any death investigation conducted in the state, and must also establish operating and performance standards for every medical examiner office, including uniform protocols for death investigations.