Ghost of dead patient haunts the hospital who handed over body to wrong family!

  • Posted on: August 06, 2020

Mistakes leading to bizarre incidents is not an uncommon phenomenon, not even for healthcare practitioners. But passing the buck of such mistakes on others is simply not justified, as is noted by the Consumer Commission in this weird episode.

The patient had died at the hospital and his body was kept in the mortuary. Incidentally an Indian Army colonel too had passed away in the same hospital and his body too was kept in the mortuary.

When the patient’s relatives went to collect the body of their departed loved one, they were baffled to know that it was handed over to the colonel’s family, who had even performed the last rites as per Hindu rituals! The soldier’s embarrassed family apologised for their grave mistake and handed over the ashes to patient’s family as a sign of respect and condolence.

Such an incident can evoke rage in the most peaceful of persons, as it happened in this bizarre case. The family sued the hospital and demanded that they be severely punished for the folly!

The hospital authorities’ demeanour was indifferent. It was as if they were saying, yes we made a mistake, but so what!

It was stated that the body was released without any mala fide intention. Moreover, patient’s two children among the four had settled the matter out-of-court. It was further stated, albeit without remorse, that the colonel’s family – who did not bother to check if the body was of their late family member – performed pious cremation as per Hindu scriptures! It is a mistake alright, but not a punishable one, concluded the hospital representatives.

The Commission was perhaps aghast at the arguments. Patient’s two children who had settled the matter out-of-court were strongly reprimanded as it was observed that they tried to make a fortune out of a wrong committed by the hospital and the colonel’s family who mistakenly claimed patient’s body.

Training its gun at the hospital, the Commission observed that it was a well-established enterprise with an excellent infrastructure and wherewithal, and the slipshod act committed by them was unpardonable.

Not only was the hospital held negligent, but was also ordered to pay twenty five lac rupees compensation – a punishment that hopefully will remind them well to double check before handing over a body!

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 12th March, 2020.