Michigan Medicine admits mistakes, promises changes at Wayne County Morgue after investigations expose issues

More in-depth audit to be performed

After a series of troubling reports by the Local 4 Defenders, Michigan Medicine is promising changes are coming to the Wayne County Morgue.

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Michigan Medicine has promised that changes will come to the Wayne County Morgue. The promise comes after a series of reports by the Local 4 Defenders.

In September, a family reached out to Local 4 and said their loved one had been at the morgue for months and was cremated -- even after the morgue told them her remains weren’t there. After that first report, other families started coming forward.

Officials from Michigan Medicine, who run the Wayne County Morgue, as well as the Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt, spent more than an hour in front of the Health and Human Services board. Mistakes were admitted and a plan for change was announced.

Read: Who runs the Wayne County morgue?: Woman says daughter’s body delivered to funeral with maggots in mouth

“I want to do everything we can so we don’t see a repeat of this,” Wayne County Commissioner Glenn Anderson said.

Many on the board felt that way.

“There is a sense of outrage. You must understand we should never have to go back. This is unacceptable,” Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch said.

The Local 4 Defenders exposed cases involving bodies that were left in the morgue for months without notifying families -- and other bodies decomposing.

The Local 4 Defenders were able to obtain the last inspection of the Wayne County Morgue from 2016, where two autopsy physicians were cited for performing more than 325 autopsies a year. Three other physicians performed more than 250, which was a violation, saying it impacts the quality of an autopsy.

The facility was also cited because only four of the 13 death investigators are registered. At least seven of them are required to be. There was also no sufficient staff to cover the caseload for forensic photography.

Michigan Medicine announced major changes that include the hiring of a new death scene investigator, and a more in-depth audit will be performed. There is also a plan to create a web-based port for families to help them search for loved ones at the morgue.


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About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.