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State Government

Survey: No notification when disabled adults die

BELLEVILLE (AP) – A media investigation has found that coroner's officials in the state's ten largest counties haven't received calls from the Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services after a disabled adult who lived at home died.

The News-Democrat in Belleville surveyed the counties, including the Cook County medical examiner, and reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/MSFOHR) that officials in the coroner's offices couldn't recall receiving a call from the agency's inspector general.

Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn, president of the Illinois Coroner's Association, said his office has never received a call from the inspector general, but has received calls when children or elderly people die.

Nonn said if coroners were notified, they could order autopsies and preserve evidence if needed for possible criminal charges.

"I think the whole thing is about communication," he said. "Why is someone dropping the ball and not notifying the proper authorities?"

According to state law, the inspector general must immediately report deaths to coroners if a disabled adult died from abuse, neglect of exploitation.

Januari Smith Trader, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, said in a statement, "The OIG has written evidence that many of these cases were referred to local law enforcement and/or the medical examiner/coroner. In other cases, contact was made but not documented by OIG staff or the receiving entity. This is unacceptable and the OIG recognizes this issue and has swiftly taken steps to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure referrals/notifications are properly documented."

The newspaper surveyed Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Sangamon, St. Clair and Winnebago counties.

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

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