When will KEM sweepers stop conducting post-mortems?
No changes in sight, despite meeting in August to put an end to malpractice
Five months after mid-day revealed how mortuary attendants and cleaning staff of Parel’s KEM Hospital conduct post-mortems, sources have confirmed that the hospital’s dean Dr Avinash Supe, admitted to the flouting of norms and wanted to put an end to it. Though that admission came in August, little progress has been made on the front.
A sweeper cuts open a body at KEM hospital in a file photo
This newspaper has accessed minutes of a meeting that was conducted between Dr Supe and hospital officials on August 24, where it was decided not to let unqualified workers and attendants conduct post-mortems.
Sources said the issue was raised after this newspaper brought to light that the safai kamgars, or cleaning staff, conducted post-mortems, though it wasn’t a part of their assigned duties by the BMC.
The work of safai kamgars include helping doctors, stitching and washing bodies after post-mortem, and completing the handover process. Citing the High Court’s judgment in a similar case two years ago, the forensic department was asked to stop forcing the kamgars from taking direct part in the post-mortem process.
Dr Supe has given it in writing that, “according to the SOPs given to the staff, safai kamgars are not supposed to conduct post-mortems. Yet, they have been asked to do the work.” He added that the safai kamgars will be paid for all the work they have been doing up till then. and “release the amount as soon as possible.”
An employee, working at KEM for more than a decade, said “Unlike other departments, we cannot go on strike to fulfill our demands. There is no question of keeping the post-mortem department shut as it will cripple the hospital’s services. Either don’t force us to do post-mortems, as that’s not part of our job, or give us formal training and then the necessary remuneration.”
Sources at the hospital disclosed that it’s unlikely that the kamgars will be taken off the job any time soon as doctors in the forensic department, loath to conduct post-mortems, are opposed to the move.