By Associated Press Writer
updated 3/21/2010 4:15:38 PM ET 2010-03-21T20:15:38

A report by Health Commissioner Terry Cline on the performance and needs of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is expected to clarify what will be required to fix staffing, equipment and accreditation problems in the agency.

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Gov. Brad Henry asked Cline to conduct a thorough review of the office last month, less than a week after the board that administers the state agency fired its chief medical examiner, Dr. Collie M. Trant. Cline's report is expected to be delivered to Henry and state lawmakers as early as Monday.

Lawmakers have said Cline's report is expected to be the equivalent of a performance audit, and will examine the office's operations and procedures as well as any changes in the law needed to help it run smoothly.

The review is the second focusing on the Medical Examiner's Office in recent weeks. A financial review turned over to lawmakers two weeks ago by Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage found that overspending and mismanagement had contributed to financial problems at the agency, but no evidence of fraud, abuse or other criminal conduct.

Lawmakers plan to use the reports to develop spending proposals for hiring more pathologists and updating equipment to help the agency regain accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners.

The accreditation was revoked in July due to inadequate staffing and outdated facilities and equipment. The agency had been accredited for 18 years.

Lawmakers are studying plans for a new office and laboratory for the agency, which officials said had a backlog of about 1,100 death investigations.

The agency is seeking a location for the facility adjacent to the new Forensic Science Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and across a highway from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's Forensic Science Center, a $31 million, 86,000-square-foot lab that opened last year.

Meanwhile, legislative committees will take up dozens of pieces of legislation during the upcoming week.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider Senate-passed anti-abortion measures that would deal with the use of the RU-486 "abortion pill," prohibit abortions based on the gender of the fetus, and prevent discrimination against medical employees who refuse to participate in abortions.

All of the provisions were included in omnibus abortion bills approved by the Legislature in previous years that were invalidated in separate court cases for violating a constitutional provision requiring laws to deal with only one subject.

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