AIIMS sacks one, suspends another for swapping of dead bodies
An All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ mortuary staff was on Wednesday sacked and another suspended, a day after the bodies of two Covid-19 patients were exchanged while being taken for the last rites.
AIIMS trauma centre had on Wednesday set up a committee to probe the matter. “There were lapses of protocol on several levels, which led to this unfortunate incident. All the Covid-19 bodies released by the hospital have the name tags on the body bags. We also ask the family members to identify the body. PPE kits are provided for the purpose,” said a senior official from the hospital, requesting anonymity.
“With Covid-19, most families do not want to carry the body to the burial grounds or crematoriums. They do not want to open it for the fear of infection. However, in this case, neither the staff nor the family checked the name tags on the body bags. The labelling was proper,” the official said.
An ambulance with four corpses – including that of Anjum B – left from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. Three of the persons who had died were Hindu and were taken to a crematorium before the van left for the ITO burial ground.
The fact that bodies had been swapped was known when the relatives of one of the deceased, Anjum, 35, insisted on seeing her face before she was buried at the ITO graveyard on Tuesday. Anjum had died of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Monday night.
According to Anjum’s family, hospital authorities called them on Monday night to inform about Anjum’s death. They were told to reach the hospital the next morning to claim the body.
Anjum’s cousin Ghaffar said when the hospital told them that the body has been put in a bag and they would be able to see it only at the burial ground. After they pointed out the it was someone else, the staff checked the name tag on the bag read Kusumlata.
The family went back to the hospital to find that Anjum’s body had already been cremated. Following this, they approached the Safdarjung police station. “The family of the dead Muslim patient lodged a complaint with us. However, the issue was resolved and no first information report (FIR) has been registered,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Devender Arya.
The hospital authorities said the body of Kusumlata was then cremated according to Hindu rituals. They, however, said nobody from the family of Kusumlata came to claim her body.
Anjum’s relatives went back to the hospital on Wednesday to meet the hospital officials. “There was nothing to be done in this case, the body had already been cremated. We offered the ashes to the family for burial, but they refused,” the AIIMS official said.