62 fully-functional morgue freezers at Gandhi Hospital, says Telangana govt

Hyderabad: Refuting claims of dead bodies decaying at the Gandhi Hospital mortuary due to dysfunctional freezer boxes, the state government on Wednesday, November 9 informed the Telangana High Court that all 62 freezer boxes were fully functional.

The state government also observed that there were no reports of mishandling of bodies and denied accusations that the hospital staff was treating bodies in an undignified manner.

The state HC last week had taken up suo motu cognisance based on the The Hindu‘s report highlighting the dysfunctionalities at Gandhi Hospital mortuary as a PIL petition.

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Notices were sent to the chief secretary, principal secretary and commissioner of health and medical department of Gandhi Hospital for responses over the allegations on the condition of the morgue.

On November 7, while refuting the allegations that dead bodies were left to rot at the morgue, the state government submitted to a bench of CJ Alok Aradhe and Justice NV Shravan Kumar stating that 16 boxes were examined.

Gandhi Hospital superintendent in the submission said that the eight freezer boxes which had become very old have been replaced with eight new boxes acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bodies handed soon after the autopsy

In his counter, the superintendent further stated that the reports were unsubstantiated and not rooted in fact. He told the court that following autopsies, bodies are immediately handed over to families.

The submission further stated that there were 16 bodies in the mortuary as on November 6. Seven out of the 16 bodies were unidentified and were not claimed by anyone so far.

All unidentified and unclaimed bodies (many of which were already in the decomposing stage before being brought to the morgue) are kept in the mortuary for the mandatory period of 72 hours as per the rules.

“The putrid odour emanating from such bodies cannot be arrested and in spite of the same the doctors are performing the post-mortem examination after 72 hours with all care and precaution,” the hospital superintendent stated in the report.

The superintendent further said that the morgue receives 15 to 20 bodies daily. Of them, three to four are unidentified. As they start to decompose, they are preserved in the freezer boxes which are currently available in sufficient numbers.

He retaliated that the storage capacity in the mortuary is fine and no fresh body has undergone decomposition after depositing so far.

About the complaints, the hospital official mentioned that none had been received so far stating that a fresh body had decomposed releasing a foul odour.