RACINE COUNTY - In the Racine County Medical Examiner's office, there is a whiteboard full of names of deceased people for which the county awaits autopsy results.
At least one of the cases dates to 2009, said Racine County Medical Examiner Tom Terry. Cases are supposed to only take 30 days, Terry said, but the county has been waiting a lot longer to get cases back from Waukesha County, where bodies are sent for autopsies, Terry said.
To remedy that, Terry said that starting next year the county will be contracting with Milwaukee County instead of Waukesha County.
For most deaths, the cause is able to be determined without an autopsy. But for cases with unanswered questions, bodies are sent to neighboring counties for an examination to confirm the cause of death. The county has been doing this for many years, Terry said.
Usually, out of thousands of deaths per year, about 50 are sent outside the county for an autopsy, Terry said.
From the past two years the county is awaiting autopsy results for about 35 people, Terry said last week after a budget hearing with County Board members.
"It keeps our records open until we get the final report," Terry said.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office has promised to turn over cases faster, and Milwaukee is also less expensive than Waukesha County, Terry said. Waukesha County charges about $1,800 per autopsy, Terry said, while Milwaukee County charges about $1,500.