Texas Tech decides to end medical examiner service in 2009

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Tech Health Sciences Center has decided that forensic work doesn't mesh with the school's overall mission, meaning about 80 South Plains counties will have to find a new medical examiner by fall 2009.

Lubbock County Judge Tom Head said he was surprised last week when HSC President John Baldwin told him Tech was ending its contract to operate the Lubbock County Medical Examiner's Office.

Officials received a certified letter dated August 5 informing them of the decision. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported the end of the contract also affects Amarillo, Plainview, Big Spring and Lubbock, who received forensic services including autopsies performed by four forensic pathologists at the Lubbock County Medical Examiner's Office.

Dr. Steven Berk, dean of the Tech medical school, said that a large patient load, an ambitious research program and other goals meant that the medical examiner's office was no longer a good fit.