Postmortem Now Can be Conducted at Night

Postmortem Now Can be Conducted at Night

A landmark reform has been made by the government of Delhi that states postmortem can now be conducted at Delhi government run medical facilities even after sunset.

The government said that this will change the situation for relatives of the deceased who often have to wait a long time to receive the bodies. Apart from that, it will also encourage organ donation and transplantation.

Several medical as well as forensic experts have said that though this reform will ease the process of organ donation in medico-legal cases (MLCs) such as accidents, however at the same time doing autopsies at night will have its own share of challenges.

According to Dr. Suneela Garg, former head of community medicine at the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), “Doing postmortems at night will surely expedite the overall process and the family can get the body of their kin back sooner, so it will help.”

On the other hand, some experts says conducting autopsies at night would entail greater manpower, which will include doctors, postmortem technicians and attendants, sweepers, security personnel, besides reliable source of illumination.

The Delhi AIIMS forensic chief, Dr Sudhir Gupta stressed that, “All the mortuaries which are conducting legal autopsies are only equipped with manpower and facilities for daytime autopsy. This means that if one wants to run the mortuary for conducting legal autopsy 24×7, double manpower will be needed.”

Talking about the manpower, he said that the members of sanitation staff and technicians, besides doctors will be needed, as conducting autopsy is not the only process, but it includes preservation of biological samples such as blood urine, tissues, organs and viscera for further examinations.

One of the senior doctor and forensic expert of the Hindu Rao Hospital, the largest one under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), said at night, one will have to be careful in looking at the body, as postmortem requires very close examination of details such as colour of skin, lips, and other parts. 

A well-lit room and steady supply of power will be required to facilitate the situations in which the body is riddled with multiple bullets, and finding and removing bullets take a very long time. An alternative source of power like a generator would have to be kept on standby, in case there is a power failure.

Also, two more shifts would be required, and thus more doctors and other staff would be needed at night to do the job, which till now was happening only till evening, and not after dark.

It has been told that if a person has become brain-dead, and the family has consented to donate one or more organs, then the postmortem surgeon and a transplant surgeon can work in tandem at the medical centre to facilitate the organ donation, as transplant procedure has to be done soon after the patient becomes brain-dead. Such cases will be handled on a priority.

According to officials of the government, mortuaries and postmortem facilities are available at the government run hospitals of Delhi but in the case of deaths where there is suspicion of murder, suicide, rape, or foul play, a provision has been made to examine the dead bodies only during the day.

Because of this provision the bodies were kept safely in mortuaries during night and the bereaved relatives had to wait the whole night to claim and bury the dead, which makes their pain worse.

However, now the dead bodies coming to the postmortem houses at night will be attended immediately.

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