Last week, this Sunday, with John Oliver, was dedicated to death investigations. Although presented on television with glamor, the field suffers. More than 500,000 people end up being investigated by coroners and medical examiners. Oliver emphasized the importance of their work for his audience: "A death certificate is not like a USC diploma. It really means something. "
The field helps inform the public about how people are killed, identify new trends in unnatural deaths, such as drug addiction, defective products and the spread of infectious diseases. But many of the facilities occupied by the death investigators are old and in poor condition. The US government provides little or no funding for forensic pathologists or coroner's offices. A medical examiner complained that he had worked in an office where he had only one light above his examination table. "It's frankly too scary. If I learned anything from horror movies, it's that when you see a piece containing a dead person, a living person and a light bulb, it's a piece about to contain two dead and a light bulb! Oliver commented.
The facilitator of Last Week Tonight explained the difference between coroners and coroners, the latter representing two-thirds of death investigators in the country. Although both have similar jobs, forensic doctors are doctors, while coroners are not required to undergo medical training and sometimes have to be elected. Lack of qualifications often leads to conflicts of interest and misuse of power, to the point that medical organizations have called for the abolition of the coroners system since 1857.
But Oliver pointed out that even that might not be enough to put an end to the errors and abuses of power of the death investigators. In a 20/20 interview video, John Quinones asked a medical examiner if his dog had eaten a kidney and a spleen from a body. The forensic doctor was silent. "I know he's not in the habit of dealing with the living, but playing at death is just not a legitimate gesture here!"
Forensic pathologists' offices are not only underfunded, but those who work there also earn less than in other institutions. According to an article from August 2018, there are only 500 forensic doctors practicing in the United States. Oliver informed his audience that in some states, such as New Jersey, understaffed, it may be more beneficial to "write down everything that kills you on a post-it and stick it on your chest". He jokingly said, "You're really going to do some solid work for overwhelmed investigators."
Due to the shortage of staff, some States have entrusted their activities to private companies, some of which may constitute mismanagement of investigations. Oliver highlighted a case in Missouri and Kansas, where Shawn Parcells, accused of performing illegal autopsies, lying about his credentials, having investigated for murder and improperly stored body and liquids, has been outsourced.
After eliminating Parcells' "deceived death nest", which the facilitator also called an "autopsy chamber of the scammers", Oliver then laid the groundwork for a possible solution to the problem. "Well, in an ideal world, no one would die. I will certainly never and at the risk of seeming too prescriptive, I do not think you should do it either. But in a slightly less ideal world, we would gradually eliminate coroners' offices and replace them with forensic doctors. You know, what the experts have been calling for since the 1800s and we would have autopsies practiced or supervised by medical examiners approved by the council … "
He advocated encouraging medical examiners to receive adequate funding, arguing that this plan would cost only $ 3.75 per person per year. "It's less than the amount we inadvertently spend each year on our fucking sofa cushions!" Exclaimed the host. "Listen, I know this problem is tempting to ignore. It combines two things that people hate the most: death and municipal funding. "
The meeting ended with the help of Glenn Close and Tracy Morgan to insist that forensic scientists need more money so people and their organs are not desecrated. , and Morgan said, "When my time will come, I do not want to end up in a basement dungeon on the autopsy table of a guy, standing above me with a butter knife. and a blunt spoon, as well as an ice cream scoop. "