Coroners could soon use surgical implants to identify bodies

Posted: 5:58 PM, Jan 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-22 20:37:35Z
Indiana Statehouse.jpg

Jan. 22 Update:
The Indiana House passed the bill, 97-1. The bill moves to the Indiana Senate. Previous story below.

INDIANAPOLIS — If an unidentified person is found dead in Indiana, the county coroner can use their fingerprints, DNA, dental records or family member to identify them. There could soon be another way to identify bodies in the state, making it easier for officials to find out what’s happened to somebody.

House Bill 1084 would add the tracking numbers on surgical implants to the list of methods coroners use to identify bodies.

Every piece of equipment has a number that is tied to the patient, whether a cornea, pacemaker or a different medical device.

The bill was authored by Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, but Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, was recently added as a co-author, based on his experience as the Warrick County Coroner.

“An implant is a very individualized piece of equipment that is place in a human body,” Bacon said.

Bacon spent six years as a coroner.

As it stands now, coroners can use surgical implants to help find out who somebody is, but it doesn’t “count” as identifying them, Bacon said.

“Let’s say I had a motor vehicle accident with a fiery crash,” Bacon said. “The body isn’t identifiable in any other way besides dental implants. And that takes a long time and it’s very expensive to get done. But that’s how we do it. … But if the implant is there and we can get a number off it, then we know who it’s supposed to be. Then we can go follow up, but that’s a way to get started.”

The bill was assigned to the committee on public health, where it passed, 12-0. It will move on to the full House.

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