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As viscera samples pile up at forensic lab, police investigations see inordinate delays

Insiders say Sassoon sends samples in even open-and-shut cases of death, resulting in year's wait for report in important cases

Over 3,000 viscera samples are sent from the Sassoon General Hospital to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in the city every year for chemical analysis. Owing to the huge number of samples sent, the work gets delayed, and investigations are hampered as the cause of death does not get ascertained in many important cases.


Moved: The cupboard to which the viscera samples were shifted after 
Sassoon authorities complained of non-clearance of the samples by the 
Pune rural police on time. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

A senior officer from a police station in the eastern part of the city said: "If you check the accidental death register at our police station, you will find that in most cases the chemical analysis report is yet to be registered." 

A police inspector said: "In confirmed cases of drowning, accident and suicide, hospital authorities preserve the viscera unnecessarily. And because of this, in cases of suspected poisoning where the chemical analysis report plays a very important part, it is delayed for almost one year."

Sassoon hospital authorities estimate that almost 5,000 autopsies are conducted every year and in most of the cases viscera samples are preserved. An FSL official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: "In 50 per cent of the total number of autopsies, viscera samples are referred to FSL for chemical analysis. As a result of this, workload increases unnecessarily and reports which could help the investigations are delayed. Even in the medical journal, it is clearly written that there is no need to preserve the viscera in case of a patient who is hospitalised for more than 48 hours. But the rule is flouted in most of the cases at Sassoon."

Viscera samples from seven districts -- Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg -- are sent to the FSL, which receives 5,000 viscera samples a year from all these places. Sources in the FSL claim that samples from Sassoon hospital alone constitute more than 80 per cent of their total workload. 

An officer said: "CPR Hospital in Kolhapur, which conducts almost 4,000 autopsies every year, sends only 10 per cent of its viscera samples to FSL, but the in case of Sassoon hospital, more than 50 per cent are sent to us."
Dr D G Kulkarni, superintendent, Sassoon, said: "We preserve viscera samples only when it is necessary. If the cause of death is not certain at the time of post-mortem, then chemical analysis is essential."

Did you know?
VISCERA samples consist of parts of stomach, small intestine, pieces of liver, spleen and kidney retrieved from the body of the deceased

Last month's row over clearing of samples
VISCERA samples piled up at Sassoon Hospital created a controversy last month when hospital authorities pointed out that the Pune rural police were not clearing samples on time. The viscera samples were shifted immediately after the issue was raised in the media.

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