Cost-cutting lengthens time to determine causes of death in Mass.

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BOSTON (AP) -- An effort to save money by the state medical examiner’s office has increased the amount of time it takes to determine the cause of unexplained deaths in Massachusetts from about two weeks to four months.

The delay leaves families without answers in the deaths of their loved ones, and makes it difficult for relatives to collect insurance benefits and close out estates.

The delays in generating post-mortem toxicology tests began in July when the office dropped UMass Memorial Toxicology Laboratory, and the lab’s $1.9 million annual contract, and gave the responsibility to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, for $1.3 million annually.

Curtis Wood, the state’s forensic science and technology undersecretary, tells The Boston Globe he is confident the office’s turnaround time will return to normal levels within several months.


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