Broward County announced last week that Craig Mallak is the new chief medical examiner and director of the Office of the Medical Examiner and Trauma Services. He's got a long résumé that includes a stint as medical examiner of the U.S. Armed Forces, where he ended up being the guy who identified Saddam Hussein's corpse, according to the Miami Herald.
With the Department of Defense, he had a $50 million budget and a staff of 250 people. In Broward, he's got $5.1 million and 38 staffers.
But a smaller office doesn't mean smaller headaches: The office he's coming into is in a shambles, according to two separate investigations by the Broward inspector general.
The first report outlined how there were so many pills stolen from the office under former Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper that investigators will never be able to get an accurate count. The report used the terms "gross mismanagement," "flabbergasted," and "loosey goosey" on the very first page.
One medical examiner explained to OIG agents that "some investigators never followed procedures, including never counting medications, much less logging them into the computer system. He also stated that one investigator merely kept a big black garbage bag in her office, where she stored medications without logging them."
The bulk of the accusations are leveled against former supervisor Linda Krivjanik, who reportedly just ignored Perper's recommendations for stricter medication controls because "Perper will not remember what he wanted by next week."
Perper admitted to examiners that there had not been a single inventory performed on the evidence room in 17 years but that "it would be very surprising to him if there were several thousand missing pills from the evidence room." Hmmm.
Before the investigation started, Perper resigned -- effective on Halloween -- after Rick Scott declined to reappoint him.
The other report outlined how the office has slowly picked up many duties, outside of actual medical examination, that cause death investigations to "suffer greatly... The DUI program, management of Trauma Services, the indigent/unclaimed body program, frequent autopsy observers, and acceptance of cases that fall outside of their official duties have significant negative impacts on the statutory function of the office."
Investigators reported that the dead "are not released in a timely fashion," the office holds onto property and evidence for longer than necessary, leaders hold "almost daily meetings" that keep workers from being productive, and workers often ignore the office's standard operating procedures. Investigators reported that "despite being one of the larger jurisdictions in Florida, the [Broward] Office is not accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners" and that there are "many obstacles" in the way of getting it.
The report also says that the office can't get anybody to work there -- it says the office "has had obvious difficulty with the recruitment and long term retention of Board Certified Forensic Pathologists as Associate Medical Examiners" but that a fellowship program with Nova Southeastern University has been helpful. Except the person overseeing the fellow does not "possess appropriate professional and academic credentials."
It also points out that the office reuses containers for tissue samples, and some older containers "have the wrong name or have more than one name and case number." OIG investigators actually had to recommend that "tissue storage containers should be consistently labeled."
The rest of the report is included below. Mallak is scheduled to start sometime around July and will make $240,000 a year, according to the Sun-Sentinel. And he's certainly got his work cut out for him.
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