By Bob Katzen
The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would require that the autopsy report for a child under the age of two be reviewed and approved by the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death. Changes to the autopsy report would also have to be reviewed and approved by the Chief Medical Examiner.
Supporters said the measure addresses recent cases in which the Chief Medical Examiner’s office changed the cause of death for deaths of children under two, creating serious implications for ongoing court cases and for the families of those children. They noted that the most experienced person in the office should provide oversight to what are typically junior medical examiners without pediatric autopsy experience. They argued this will provide more confidence and peace of mind for families who have tragically lost infants.
“Cases involving very young children are complex and sensitive—and fortunately, rare—representing a small portion of the cases handled by the Medical Examiner’s office,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “That means that pediatric cases deserve to be reviewed and approved by the most experienced Medical Examiner—and that is the Chief Medical Examiner. I hope the Senate takes up the matter soon, it’s the least that we can do when these tragedies occur.”
“I am deeply appreciative that the House has affirmed the importance of this bill for the second time this session. I hope that the Senate will take it up soon so that we can send it to Gov. Baker’s desk,” said House sponsor Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge).