FARMINGTON >> Lack of storage space for bodies and shorthanded medical examiners have cost the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner its full national accreditation due to deficiencies largely rooted in a spike of fatal drug overdoses in the state.

The OCME’s office said in a release Wednesday that inadequate staffing and refrigerated body storage are among the major deficiencies found by the National Association of Medical Examiners. NAME accredits 90 offices in the U.S., serving more than 166 million people, according the release, including offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.

NAME formally informed OCME that it was being placed on provisional accreditation in a letter dated Jan. 31. The accreditation organization gave its recommendation following an on-site review.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill had warned last year that such a decision was not only looming, but highly likely. Budget cuts in the department left Gill’s office scrambling to address the sharp uptick in drug overdoses in the state. More than 400 people died of fatal drug overdoses between Jan. 2016 to June 2016, according to stats from Gill’s office.

Executive Secretary Linda Sylvia said in the release that OCME is working with the state’s Office of Policy and Management and the Department of Administrative Services to address both major deficiencies. The release said some vacant technical and non-technical staff positions have been refilled and the office is putting out a bid in March for a new refrigerated storage space.

If the office does not address its deficiencies by September, it will completely lose NAME accreditation. Sylvia said accreditation shows an office performs “sound and timely death investigations.”

“This instills confidence in the police departments, attorneys, and the families that are served,” Sylvia said. “Mistakes by a medical examiner put people’s lives at risk, can result in the innocent imprisoned, and cost millions of dollars in civil claims.”

NAME identified four major deficiencies and one minor deficiencies; any major deficiencies, called phase 2, results in loss of full accreditation. The release included a list of the major deficiencies, which include having staff performing more than 325 autopsies per year, which is the recommended limit.

Insufficient storage space for bodies and their handling is another major concern outlined by OCME. NAME recommends adding three new medical examiner positions to remediate this problem, while OCME said they’re working to convert a storage area to add more refrigerator space for remains.

Other, minor deficiencies found by NAME included that 90 percent of postmortem examinations were not completed within 60 days from time of autopsy; a majority of the medical investigators that have worked in the office for 5 years aren’t registered or certified by the America Board of Medical Death Investigators; and a temperatures alarm for a refrigerators that was unplugged.

Reach Esteban L. Hernandez at 203-680-9901.