Corpses found lying in open at Sion Hospital's trauma centre

For the last seven months, corpses covered in sheets — limbs peeking through — are routinely dumped inside civic-run Sion Hospital’s trauma centre, flouting all norms of human dignity and hygiene. Reason? The temporary room, called the dead body storeroom, where the bodies are kept in the time between death and panchnama, is locked since August 4, 2012. The corpses lying in the open are of those declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Abandoned:The body of an unidentified burns victim from Antop Hill lying in the open in the trauma centre of Sion Hospital. PIC/Anuradha Varanasi

According to hospital procedure, when a patient brought in by a civilian is declared dead on arrival (DOA), the post-mortem can be conducted only after the police from the deceased’s locality conduct the panchnama. While the panchnama proceedings take around an hour, it was observed that the corpses we left out in the open for two hours before being shifted to the morgue.

Flouting hygiene norms
In a major breach of hygienic practices, in several cases, when railway accident victims are declared DOA, their bleeding bodies are left in one corner of the trauma centre while patients are being treated a few feet away, said a hospital staff member.

“The reason the storeroom was locked up in the hospital’s trauma centre is because we did not want dead bodies there,” said Dr Sandhya Kamath, former dean of Sion hospital. She refused to comment further on the issue.

A senior doctor from the hospital said the small makeshift morgue in the trauma centre is a temporary room designated to keep corpses until police panchnama is complete. “It is very traumatising for the patients and they are also at a risk of contracting infections from the corpses,” he said.

No dignity in death
On Wednesday, a labourer fell to his death from the tenth floor of an under-construction building in Nerul around 10.30 am. The victim, Rajkumar Gupta (36), was rushed to Sion Hospital where he was declared DOA. His bleeding body was left uncovered next to the corpse of a 24-year-old man for around one-and-a-half-hour before their corpses were shifted to the hospital’s morgue around 12 pm, said sources.

Shortly after those corpses were shifted, a body of an unidentified burn victim from Antop Hill was dumped right outside the entrance of the storeroom for around two hours. Barely a few feet away, patients were being treated and waiting relatives stood right next to the uncovered corpse.

Irked, relatives of patients have complained on several occasions about the corpses being left out in the open. In reply, the hospital staff claims that the bodies cannot be shifted unless the police panchnama is completed. 

The other side
“I will look into the matter and see how to tackle this issue of bodies being left out in the open,” said Dr Avinash Supe, dean of Sion Hospital. “However, as the trauma centre is completely air-conditioned, we have to keep the corpse outside for a while for observation. But I’ll see to it that they are wrapped up properly.” 

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