In a bizarre incident, that happened at a Mumbai hospital, a homeless man (identified as Prakash) who was declared dead came alive before his autopsy.
The man was brought to Sion Hospital by policemen who insisted he was dead. He was sent to the mortuary for an autopsy.
The dean of the hospital, Suleman Merchant, said, “The patient was on a stretcher and his face and ear was infested with maggots, usually seen in decomposed bodies. He was apparently picked up from a bus stop at Sion.”
He added: “His pulse and heartbeat were absent. The patient also had fixed dilated pupils, a condition common in patients who are close to death.”
But later, when the man was taken to the mortuary, he woke up during the ensuing commotion. An attendant detected some movement in the man and informed the doctors.
The man was shifted to the hospital’s medical intensive care unit. He is recuperating but continues to be in a delirious state caused by severe intoxication.
The hospital authorities blame the police for the error. Merchant said:
“As police officers were on bandobast duty for the prime minister’s visit, instead of bringing the patient inside, they asked the doctor to examine him outside the casualty. Our casualty medical officer got intimidated by the police presence. The police kept telling the doctor the patient was dead and insisted he certify him urgently.”
Also, it was reported that the doctor who declared the man dead immediately destroyed all records of the incident in an effort to cover up his mistake.
Merchant added that it was not uncommon for doctors to miss the pulse of a patient — particularly if the patient was in a state of shock or trauma.
Not so unexpectedly, the police blame the hospital authorities for the error. SPI Gorde said:
“It is a serious case of negligence by the doctor. We were shocked to find patient was alive after he had been declared dead. We have written to the dean of Sion Hospital, asking him to conduct an inquiry and give us the report. Once the report is out, we can take action. The hospital authorities should take action against the person responsible for this incident.”
Usually, when a patient is declared dead by a medical officer, the body is kept in the casualty section or a ward for about two hours – known as the cooling off period.
“In this case, the casualty was full and so the body was sent to the mortuary, where it would have been kept for two hours. The patient is receiving the best possible care.”