Coroner trip questioned

Here's one I've never thought about before—From the Wisconsin State Journal: Tissue bank criticized for offer of trip to coroners

    A tissue bank operating in Wisconsin offered coroners and medical examiners a free three- day trip to Las Vegas in April, and some charge that the outing appears to be an inducement for the referral of cadavers to the bank for the harvesting of donated tissue.

    The offer raises questions about the operation of largely unregulated tissue banks in the state, especially their dealings with elected coroners and medical examiners who frequently refer the bodies of people who die outside of hospitals to the organizations for tissue donation.

    Some say a lack of oversight has resulted in a ghoulish competition for bodies in which tissue banks lobby coroners and medical examiners for referrals.

    "The system is clearly open to influence and corruption," said Anthony D'Alessandro, medical coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Organ Procurement Organization. He added that the organization's work to secure organs and tissue for transplant at UW Hospital is federally regulated, unlike the relationship between coroners and tissue banks.

    The Las Vegas trip was offered by American Tissue Services Foundation, one of three major nationwide tissue banks with operations in Wisconsin. The trip was described in a Feb. 21 letter to coroners and medical examiners as the first meeting of a newly formed national medical examiner and coroner advisory committee.

    Dane County Coroner John Stanley said he did not receive one of the letters and added that, if he had, he would not have attended nor would he have allowed members of his staff to attend, even though they work with ATSF.

    "It stinks," Stanley said of the trip offering. "To me, it's a junket."

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