(Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities, February 28, 2023)

At today’s 02/28/23 Bannock County meeting, the Forensic Consultant for the Eastern Idaho Forensic Pathology Center project presented a packet of budget numbers and autopsies counts for surrounding counties.

NOTE: This is still a project-in-progress, so changes and additional information is expected to present itself as it progresses through various phases.
A large number of items/costs were covered today, but some of the most important figures are as follows:
  • Forensic Pathologist: Est. $285,000 + insurance/benefits.
  • Forensic Tech (FT): Est. $48,500K + insurance/benefits.  NOTE: Only a PT technician would be required for the first year or two per the consultant.
  • Admin/Transcriptionist: $0 (They plan to utilize Dragon Speaking Dictation program).
  • Chief Administrator: $50K + insurance/benefits.
TOTAL PERSONNEL BUDGET: $383,500 (not adjusted for the PT Tech)
* Per County comptroller, insurance/benefits can be estimated @ 40%.
  • Forensic Pathologist = approx. $114K.
  • FT Forensic Tech = approx. 19,400.
  • Chief Administrator = approx. $20,000.
TOTAL (P.A.G.E.) EST. ADDITIONAL INSURANCE/ BENEFITS: $153,400 (NOT included in above total.)
The consultant’s cost projections (NOT including insurance/benefit) are:
  • Personnel $383,500
  • Operating: $36,496
  • TOTAL: $419,996
The Southeast Idaho counties (QTY 16 including Bannock) had a total of 72 autopsies completed in 2022. Four (4) additional counties (like Twin located approximately half-way between Pocatello and Boise) had a total of 26 completed autopsies.
The consultant (28:40 timestamp) indicated most coroners would order more autopsies if cost/travel weren’t a factor. From a national standpoint, Idaho isn’t conducting enough autopsies. The rates should be 1 per 1000 autopsies. She is estimating 120 autopsies can be achieved in the first year.
Using the estimate of 120 autopsies for year #1 (last week it was 100), puts the per autopsy cost at $3500. ($419,996/120 autopsies).
* Currently, ADA County autopsies cost approximately $2000.
Add in the estimated insurance/benefits of $153,400 = $573,396 and that increases the per autopsy cost to $4778.30. (Less when adjusting for a PT Tech for the first couple of years.)
The current plan is to start the Forensic Pathology Center utilizing space at Portneuf Medical Center while the building renovations are completed. The details of that arrangement with Portneuf Medical Center have not yet been determined.
The County has posted the Forensic Pathologist position opening.
  1. Is the 120 autopsy estimate an achievable number given the historic records? Current cost estimates for the autopsies are well over the $2000 (Ada County) charge.
  2. Is it best practice to estimate revenue on an increase in caseloads (likely not yet funded within individual counties)? In other words, even if the Coroners want to order more autopsies, what guarantees are there that their County will fund them with additional dollars?
  3. If the numbers continue to show the per autopsy costs well above the current ADA County cost of $2000 each, will the Commissioners reconsider the project?
  4. Are there alternative methods to increase the number of autopsies being performed to make the project more cost effective? Note: Private autopsies were discussed.
  5. If so, will an increase from a caseload of 120 to 200+ also increase the salary necessary to pay the Forensic Pathologist and require the addition of another Forensic Tech? (Based on the consultant, some pathologists with full case loads are being paid $250 – $485K.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.