Medical Examiner’s Office presents 2018 report

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Mower County Board was able to learn about the overall causes of death from an annual report.

Dr. Ross Reichard, chief medical examiner of the Southern MN Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, presented the 2018 annual medical examiner report during Tuesday morning’s county board session.

“It’s pretty typical,” Reichard said of the report. From Reichard’s report, the following were considered highlights from 2018:

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Mower County has a population of about 40,011 according to Reichard. In 2018, Mower County had 328 deaths, with 258 cases being reported to the medical examiner. Of those, 29 deaths were certified after postmortem examination, 28 were complete autopsies and 25 deaths were certified without postmortem examination. About 204 deaths were not certified by the Medical Examiner’s Office after an investigation.

Manner of death

Mower County saw a decrease in deaths from natural causes in 2018, with 234 deaths reported to be from natural causes versus 247 in 2017. The next highest manner of death reported was accidental with 18 deaths in 2018.

“The manner of death is very lopsided toward natural deaths, which is what we like,” Reichard explained. “It’s a good thing. There are very low numbers of other categories, which adds power to the data.”

Suicide rates

“Has (suicide rates) gone up?” Commissioner Tim Gabrielson asked Reichard.

Suicide rates slightly increased in Mower County, from three reported suicides in 2016 to five reported suicides in 2018.

“It has gone up in Minnesota,” Reichard responded. “It’s been trending upwards during the last 10 to 15 years.”

Despite the increased suicide rate, Mower County still falls significantly below the suicide per capita rate per 100,000 people among other southeast Minnesota counties.

Motor vehicle crashes

Mower County has a lower vehicle mortality rate. Reichard stated that while there were two motorcycle deaths reported in 2016 and 2018, there weren’t any deaths related to car crashes in Mower County for 2018, which was a decrease from two deaths reported in 2016 and one death reported in 2017.

“Mower County is way below average, which is very good in contrast with other counties,” Reichard said. “Another fatality or two can really move that bar, but it does stand out as low. We’ve been plotting out areas to make sure there’s no trend or cluster that highlights to us as treacherous areas.”

Drug-related deaths

There were five deaths related to illegal and mixed drugs in 2018, according to Reichard’s data. Two deaths were reportedly from fentanyl and one from morphine and heroin. There were three deaths from methamphetamine. There was also one death reported from opioid overdose.

Death by natural causes

From the report, the highest cause for a natural death was related to cardiac health issues, with 73 reported deaths in 2018, followed by cancer with 45 deaths and neurologic with 41 deaths.

Death by age group

The largest age group that experienced the most number of deaths was 85 people in the age bracket between 85 to 94, followed by 64 deaths reported between the ages of 75 to 84.