In a major case of negligence by medical staff, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) handed over the corpse of a Muslim woman to a Hindu family that had lost a member to the coronavirus disease (COVID) and the body of the Hindu woman to the Muslim family. While the Hindu family cremated the body — this was a COVID patient too — without realising it was not of their kin, the Muslim family realised the hospital’s mistake when they removed the shroud to prepare the body the hospital had given to them for burial.
When the case uncovered, the Muslim family created a ruckus at the AIIMS Trauma Centre. A hassled AIIMS administration instituted an inquiry and suspended an employee for negligence.
A complaint of negligence nevertheless reached Delhi Police.
Sources in the police said the Muslim woman was Anjum, a resident of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. On 4 July, her family came to get her admitted at the AIIMS. She tested COVID-positive. The woman died on 6 July during treatment.
Anjum’s family was preparing to bury the body in a Delhi cemetery. When the body arrived from AIIMS and the family saw her face, they found it was of another woman. The family contacted the hospital administration immediately.
The investigation by the hospital administration revealed that their staffer at the morgue had handed over Anjum’s body to another family that had cremated the corpse already. Gaffar, a member of Anjum’s family, said the husband of the dead woman had died six months ago. They have three young children, he informed. “Due to such carelessness of the hospital, the children did not get a chance to see their mother’s face one last time,” the relative said.
Following the prima facie finding and suspension of the morgue staffer, the AIIMS administration has set up a high-level committee to investigate the case to identify and fix the systemic flaw, if any, in the protocol for dead patients, especially bodies of those who died of COVID.