SPRINGFIELD – State Senators Doris Turner and Christopher Belt laid out a plan Thursday to ensure physicians who perform autopsies are able to accurately do their job without fear of legal retaliation.

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“After conversations with Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon, it was clear that we need to ensure the people who perform autopsies are protected,” said Turner (D-Springfield). “Putting the rest of the state in line with Cook County will ensure further transparency in the death care industry.”

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Senate Bill 2779 would require counties to indemnify and hold harmless a physician, designated by the county or the coroner’s office, to perform autopsies. Indemnification describes the concept where an employer compensates or covers the liability of an employee for conduct the employee committed while they were doing their job in accordance with the employer’s guidance or policies.

Currently, Cook County is the only county in the state where physicians who perform autopsies are indemnified for the service they provide. Outside of Cook County, pathologists who perform autopsies are not employed directly by the county – meaning they have no safeguards or protections in place should litigation occur. Turner’s measure aims to close a loophole to ensure everyone who performs an autopsy is indemnified by the county.

“This legislation promotes public service to counties while providing protection to qualified physicians who are performing autopsies,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “If counties begin to indemnify these physicians, more medical professionals may be willing to take on this responsibility without fear of legal issues. This also ensures the continuity and availability of autopsy services in each county.”

Senate Bill 2779 passed the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday and awaits consideration from the full Senate.

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