A Syracuse medical examiner's report Thursday confirmed a local coroner's ruling that Edwin Klein died of an overdose of insulin in 1988 at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, but it failed to determine whether the overdose was accidental or intentional.
Dr. Eric Mitchell of Syracuse, medical examiner for Onondaga County, told District Attorney Peter L. Broderick and Coroner James M. Joyce that his autopsy of Klein's exhumed body confirmed that the death was caused by insulin.
But the question of whether the insulin was administered accidentally or intentionally "continues to be undetermined, pending further investigation," Joyce said. The report made no mention of homicide.
County officials hired Mitchell to examine the body after it was disinterred last March from a nearby cemetery because of continuing questions about the cause and manner of Klein's death on June 30, 1988.
The 71-year-old patient died unexpectedly after undergoing apparently successful colon-rectal surgery at the hospital. Joyce initially attributed the death to natural causes, but he changed the death certificate in October 1989 to show that it was caused by an overdose of insulin through "undetermined circumstances."
Hospital officials would not comment Thursday on Mitchell's report.
Ray Smith, a vice president at the Medical Center, said: "We won't comment until the hospital reviews the report."
Meanwhile, Klein's family filed a lawsuit against the medical center and several of its employees as a result of the death.
Smith confirmed that the medical center and some members of its staff have been served with papers in the lawsuit.
Klein's son, Roy Klein of Wheatfield, said the family had started a legal action in State Supreme Court but he did not disclose the details. He said a lawyer who represented the family was no longer handling the matter and his lawyer could not be reached to comment.
Nevertheless, Klein said: "The family is very pleased with today's report."
The body was returned to its burial place soon after Mitchell finished the autopsy.
Joyce said the Onondaga County medical examiner was chosen for the work "because he is as highly regarded as anybody in the state, and we wanted somebody who had no connections with the case because of its delicate nature and because of the involvement of the hospital."
News Niagara Correspondent Jimmy Thompson contributed to this report.