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Warren County medical examiner must be under contract, Haley says
Dr. Sabo

A contract with Warren County’s medical examiner will be under consideration.

Dr. Robert Sabo currently fills the position.

“We have some issues,” said Warren County Executive Jimmy Haley, to members of the county Safety Committee on Monday. “We have no contract with our medical examiner and the state wants us to produce one.”

Sabo was appointed by resolution by the full Warren County Commission in November 2016.

Haley says the county needs a written contract between the parties.

“We have no agreement with Dr. Sabo but the state of Tennessee is asking us to produce one. We have to look at that,” said Haley. “Dr. Sabo also has some issues about his time and pay. There is also an issue with the funeral homes about him signing death certificates and him not wanting to sign off on those. We need to get something in place rather quickly.”

According EMS director Preston Denney, Sabo receives $100 per death certificate signed and in 2017 he was paid $14,000 for his services.

Denney says Sabo would rather a deceased person’s primary care physician sign the death certificate because they know the person’s medical history and he does not.

“Before Dr. Sabo started, the medical examiner before never asked any questions,” said Denney. “If he was brought a death certificate, he signed it and they were done. When Dr. Sabo started, he asks questions. He has the right to say ‘I want jurisdiction’ or the right to say ‘This is not my call to make.’ If someone dies and they have a primary care physician they are being treated by, Dr. Sabo wants that doctor to sign the death certification because they know the person’s medical history and they should be the one making the decision on what to write down for cause of death.”

Sabo has never refused to sign if a primary care physician refuses, said Denney.

“To my knowledge Sabo has never refused to sign one,” said Denney. “If the primary refuses to sign it, he signs it. However, initially, if they have a primary care physician and they’ve been under treatment, he tells them they need to go talk to the primary care physical first. He feels like the primary care physician knows more about their history.”

Haley and Denney were given committee permission to begin negotiations with Sabo regarding what services he will provide and at what cost.