Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Indian government order: Dispose of unclaimed bodies after 10 days

A recent government order has made it mandatory for all government hospitals in the State to dispose of unclaimed dead bodies after 10 days.

Earlier, they were allowed to retain unclaimed bodies in their mortuaries up to one month. However, after 10-15 days, the tissues start deteriorating due to bacterial and other infections making disposal difficult.

As per a recent government order issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department, any dead body in a government hospital mortuary, if unclaimed for more than 10 days, should be handed over to the respective local body authorities for disposal. Bodies not in a decomposed state may be diverted to the Department of Anatomy of government medical colleges which will utilise the cadavers for teaching, said Coimbatore Medical College Hospital Dean S Revwathy.

The hospitals are not allowed to dispose of the bodies directly through voluntary organisations that help in burying unclaimed bodies. They can however collect the bodies from the local body, sources said.

In medico-legal cases, the hospital should complete the postmortem and hand over the body to investigating officer concerned within 10 days. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the police to cremate or bury it. In almost all cases, samples from the body are preserved for a longer time for identification through Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) matching, if required, she added.

The order was issued in response to complaints from government hospitals that 30-40 per cent of dead bodies were left in the mortuaries for months. Once they get decomposed, it is difficult for teaching hospitals to utilise them or conduct postmortems (in medico-legal cases). Moreover they create a bad odour around the mortuary. This order might help in regulating the process of disposal of unidentified bodies, said CMCH sources.

“The CMCH has starting implementing this order, but not fully,” said Sampath of Jeevan Santhi, a non-governmental organisation. “Last week, we disposed of a one-month-old unclaimed body with the help of the Coimbatore Corporation. On an average, it |would take 30-40 days to dispose of an unidentified body and sincere efforts would be necessary to bring this down to 10 days,“ he added.

Tuesday 27 January 2015


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