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Toxicology test backlog delays New Mexico death investigations

Albuquerque, N.M. - A New Mexico laboratory battles death investigation delays during a spike in the number of toxicology tests it handles.

The increase has created a backlog postponing some investigations for months.

The problem began when the Office of the Medical Investigator began sending every toxicology request to the single forensic toxicology lab in New Mexico, the Scientific Laboratory Division.

Officials say this change doubled the number of cases the lab handles. They add comprehensive toxicology screenings have multiplied by more than tenfold.

The lab says highly qualified personnel are leaving due to burnout. Before last year, an out-of-state laboratory was contracted to do the work.

An OMI spokesman says the office views the problem as a vendor problem: If the laboratory cannot provide timely toxicology reports, OMI cannot deliver timely death certificates. Source: Associated Press
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