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Long-time Medical Examiner announces retirement

Release Date: May 3, 2010
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

CHAPEL HILL – Dr. John D. Butts Jr., chief medical examiner for the state since 1987, announced he plans to retire as of July 1.  Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier M. Cansler announced that Dr. Deborah Radisch has been appointed to replace Dr. Butts.

“Serving as North Carolina’s chief medical examiner for the past 23 years has been both an honor and a privilege,” Dr. Butts said. “I wish to thank all my medical colleagues who have tirelessly and selflessly given their time and expertise to assist our office and provide the citizens of North Carolina with exemplary quality of service through their contributions to the medical examiner’s system.”

As Chief of state’s Medical Examiner’s Office, Dr. Butts oversees a network of more than 600 medical doctors throughout North Carolina who voluntarily devote their time, energy, and medical and legal expertise to see that deaths of a suspicious, unusual or unnatural nature are adequately investigated.

“Dr. Butts leadership has been paramount in establishing North Carolina as a national model for the study and application of of forensic medicine,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel, State Health Director. “A great strength of the North Carolina medical examiner system is the assemblage of data that allows surveillance of deaths in the state, often leading to the discovery of existing and potential public health hazards.”

Dr. Butts began his state service in 1975 when he was appointed Assistant Chief Medical Examiner. In 1977, he was named Associate Chief Medical Examiner prior to his appointment as Chief Medical Examiner in 1987.  He also served as acting Chief Medical Examiner from December 1986 to November 1987.

He is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences;  the National Association of Medical Examiners, where he also served on its Board of Directors; and the N.C. State Medical Society.  He has chaired the Child Fatality Review Team since his appointment to the N.C. State Child Fatality Task Force in 1991.  Dr. Butts also serves on faculty of University of North Carolina School of Medicine as Clinical Professor of Pathology and as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pathology at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Dr. Radisch has served as Associate Chief Medical Examiner under Dr. Butts since 2001. Since 1999, she has served as Medical Director of the N.C. Child Fatality Prevention Team. She is currently a Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology at the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine.  She previously served as Associate Chief Medical Examiner from 1986-94.  She received her medical training from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University and her Master’s in Public Health in Health Policy and Administration from UNC-CH School of Public Health.