Turner Pushing Indemnity of Forensic Pathologists Bill

By Benjamin Cox on May 21, 2024 at 1:56pm

State Senator Doris Turner continues a push to bring more accountability and transparency to the death care industry in the state.

Turner has pushed for a package of legislation to create a chain of custody for remains as well as create additional checks in that chain to ensure that human remains are properly carried for prior to burial or cremation.

The bills have come in partnership with Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon. Allmon has been leading the investigation surrounding the mishandling of human remains at Heinz Funeral Home that was discovered last year.

Turner is trying to push one final bill over the finish line this week in the House that would indemnify forensic pathologists who perform autopsies for counties, often working as independent contractors. She says it levels the playing field as far as protection and accountability are concerned in the handling of remains: “Right now, Cook County is the only county where these physicians are actually protected by the county. With the continued shortage of pathologists, we have to do what we can to keep qualified people in the field. Pathologists usually work as independent contractors, and so they are not an employee of the county. They don’t have the protection of being a county employee. What this bill would do is put all physicians who perform autopsies at parity and on the same level.”

The bill arrived in the House on Friday. Springfield Representative Mike Coffey has been added as a co-sponsor. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting a call to the floor for action.