While State-run post-mortem centres reel under severe shortage of doctor, govt turns a blind eye.
The city’s four State-run postmortem centres, which receive on an average 54 bodies a day, are reeling under a severe shortage of doctors.
There are only nine doctors running the show in the post-mortem centres at JJ, Cooper, Rajawadi and Bhagwati hospitals. This drastic shortage forces the doctors to sometimes work without breaks, conducting back-toback autopsies, that results in them being extremely overworked.
Let alone increasing the number of posts at these centres, the State Government has turned a blind eye to even filling up the seven posts lying vacant of over a year.
The four PM centres, headed by police surgeon Dr S M Patil, receive bodies not only from all cases in city police stations, but from cases on the outskirts of the city as well.
Of the average 54 bodies a day, Ghatkopar’s Rajawadi Hospital gets around 25, but has only four doctors conduct autopsies.
“If it is a case of simple injury, it takes about an hour for a post-mortem. But there are many cases of suspicious deaths or murders, sometimes with complicated injuries all over the body, which takes between three to four hours with photography and video recording involved,” said a doctor at Rajawadi.
He pointed out that besides performing autopsies, each doctor also has to attend court hearings of various police cases at least thrice a month.
The post-mortem centre at Borivali’s Bhagwati Hospital, currently run by just three doctors, is often overloaded with cases coming from far-off Vasai, Virar and even further. “There are chances of a backlog, but we try to finish post-mortems on the same day, to reduce the harrowing time that relatives go through,” he said.
Due to the overload, doctors at Bhagwati end up working for 16 to 18 hours at stretch, and so is the case at Copper Hospital, which has just two doctors on duty. The situation is even worse at JJ — all four posts for postmortem doctors are lying vacant and a doctor from Rajawadi is sent there, depending on the number of cases piling up. “Every day, we even have to request the hospital’s in-house forensic team to help us with postmortems,” Dr Patil said.
No autopsies after 7 pm
While there is a government notification to conduct post-mortems 24/7 and thereby reduce the trauma faced by relatives, the staff crunch has forced the four PM centres to stop conducting autopsies after 7 pm since May 1. “Given the number of doctors we have, we can only manage to do that much,” said Patil.
Due to this, relatives of some victims have no go but to bear the brunt. And in cases where the relatives have travelled from outstation, the ordeal is more so. Take, for instance, the case of 26-year-old Mohammed Saed, a labourer who died after falling from the 6th floor of an under-construction building in Juinagar.
His brother Mujeeb Rehman, who came down from Uttar Pradesh, had to spend the night at Rajawadi Hospital as the post-mortem could not be conducted after 7 pm.
“By the time the police formalities and panchnama was done, it was evening. The post-mortem was then scheduled for next morning, and I was forced to stay in the hospital till I got my brother’s body,” said Rehman.
Besides the four State-run PM centres, there are three BMC PM centres at KEM, Sion and Nair Hospital, and two centres at St George’s and GT Hospital that come under the medical education department. But these five centres usually handle cases within their own hospitals.
According to Dr Patil, in the past year several letters were written to the State Government highlighting their plight, but evoked no response. He added that the vacant posts must be filled up soon, and new posts need to be created