Cases of fired Cook County pathologist reviewed after wrong rulings

EMBED </>More Videos

The Cook County, Illinois medical examiner's office is reviewing the work of a fired pathologist to determine if he made the correct rulings on 218 cases he handled. (WLS)

The Cook County, Illinois medical examiner's office is reviewing the work of a fired pathologist to determine if he made the correct rulings on 219 cases he handled.

Medical examiner spokeswoman Becky Schlikerman says the work by John E. Cavanaugh contained both clerical errors and errors with his medical findings.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports officials say in one case, Cavanaugh found "no clear evidence of trauma" on a body that was found in a burning apartment. It was later determined the man suffered multiple wounds. The cause of death was changed from undetermined to homicide.

Cavanaugh handled cases from the time he was hired in January 2017, at an annual salary of $250,000, to when he was fired in November. So far, the office has examined 23 cases and changed findings in eight of them.

Cavanaugh told the Sun-Times the problems that led to his firing were "not so much over the autopsies as it's the reports."

The medical examiner's office said in a statement, "The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting a review of all of the cases handled by Dr. John Cavanaugh, a forensic pathologist who was terminated from the office effective Nov. 30, 2017.

The review was prompted after a routine quality assurance peer review process flagged errors in cases handled by the former employee. Such reviews are standard operating procedure for the office to ensure the credibility of its findings.

As a Cook County forensic pathologist, he handled 219 cases at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Of those, 23 cases have been reviewed. Of those cases, the cause and/or manner of eight cases has been changed or edited. The review is ongoing.

The former employee, a medical doctor, has been reported to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations."

WLS-TV contributed to this report
Related Topics:
medicalCook County
(Copyright ©2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)