In 2007, there was a series of scandals involving piles of unclaimed bodies and pools of blood on autopsy-room floors. An independent report concluded the state Medical Examiner's Office needed an $11.5 million budget and a total of 17 medical examiners.

Despite that, today the office has just 10 medical examiners and its budget is smaller than it was in 2007 — $7.6 million.

Information from the Medical Examiner's Office shows from 2011 to 2013, the state went from having about 58 pending death certificates to 947; incomplete autopsy reports more than doubled from 458 to 1,121; and, as of April, 1,698 toxicology reports were considered backlogged after waiting at least three months.

The office made things worse last year when it tried to save $600,000 dollars annually by switching from a private contractor for toxicology services to the State Police Crime Laboratory, even as the Crime Lab was shuttering facilities in Jamaica Plain and Amherst after discoveries of a chemist stealing drugs and analyst Annie Dookhan tampering with evidence.

The Medical Examiner's Office discovered too late that the Crime Lab didn’t have room for the additional influx. It was forced to transfer its samples yet again to another expensive private facility. Toxicology report turnaround times went from 15 days in January 2012 to 134 days in January 2014.

Still, state Undersecretary of Forensic Science and Technology Curtis Wood says the medical Examiner’s Office is doing its best.

"Our responsibility is to make sure we get it right," Wood said. "And that's our primary focus. If there's a delay, there's a delay. We don't want the delay. With the resources we have today it's very challenging to do that. In government service, we live with knowing that we're not always going to be perfect. I think for the most part we do the best we can with what we've got.”

The backlogs have kept the state Medical Examiner from achieving full accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners. Wood says the Office plans to eliminate the backlogs by sending old cases for testing at private facilities.

But the vice chair of the unpaid advisory commission that oversees the Medical Examiner's Office — Frederick Schoen — says he believes more staffing with close to 17 medical examiners will eliminate systemic backlogs.

“It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks of a slightly different approach will fix a chronic problem," Schoen said. "I don’t honestly know the details — it’s never been presented to us.”

The advisory committee has provided little oversight. It was unable to muster a quorum in 2013. Five of its 13 appointed seats are vacant.

Gov. Deval Patrick has requested a $2 million increase for the Medical Examiner's office in fiscal 2015.

“Though sufficient resources were not available during the recession to direct new funding to the Medical Examiner as called for in the 2008 report, spending cuts to the Office of the Medical Examiner were smaller than many for other state agencies,” Patrick’s office said in a statement. “With the economy rebounding, the Patrick administration has refocused on increasing resources for the Medical Examiner.”