The body of an unidentified patient, who died at state-run MGM Medical College and Hospital’s surgical ward on Tuesday morning, has not been removed to the morgue in the absence of a superintendent empowered to take this simple humanitarian decision.
In a bizarre case of mismanagement, nine patients of the ward are forced to endure the sight and stench of the body of the man in his 40s, who died of internal injuries around 9am on Tuesday.
When The Telegraph visited the ward around 1pm on Wednesday, the rapidly decomposing body lay on a bed. Foul smell hung in the air. Some patients had stopped eating due to the nauseating odour.
“My worst fears are coming true,” said patient Vikas Rao. “I apprehended the body would not be removed when I came to know yesterday morning that the man was dead. He was critically ill and had no visitors. There is no one so far to claim the body.”
Vikas added he had asked his own attendant on Tuesday evening to tell hospital authorities to remove the body to the morgue at the earliest. “Why me alone, some other patients of the ward also told nurses and officials, but no one did anything,” the patient said.
Fellow patient Mohammed Tarique said hospital authorities took MGM patients for granted. “Staying with a decomposing corpse is extremely painful. We can’t eat or sleep, forget basic hygiene,” Tarique said.
In the evening, the body was shifted from the bed to the verandah. But the body — and the worsening stench — was too close for comfort.
Hospital authorities said after the sudden death of superintendent S.S. Prasad last month, there was no one to take “sensitive decisions” such as removing an unclaimed body from a hospital bed.
Deputy superintendent Ashok Kumar Singh, who is in-charge of the hospital now, was absent on Wednesday.
A senior official of the hospital administration, who said the MGM morgue could keep six bodies, pleaded helplessness. “Unless we get orders from the top, we can’t do anything. Someone of the rank of hospital superintendent must instruct us to shift the body to the morgue,” said the official, not wishing to be named.
He added that everyone feared taking onus.
“What if relatives of the dead man turn up and create a ruckus later on?” he said.
The man who died on Tuesday was admitted to the state hospital five days ago in a critical state. Some do-gooders had brought the man, apparently a vagabond, to the hospital’s emergency, from where he was shifted to the surgical ward.
What should MGM do to prevent such incidents?