More mortuary slots planned after mix-up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2007, 12:00am

The Hospital Authority will build 220 mortuary compartments after a body identification blunder at Prince of Wales Hospital in April.

The two bodies that were mixed up had been placed in the same compartment because of overcrowding of the mortuary's 56 compartments.

The authority's board yesterday endorsed the implementation of improvement measures for mortuary services in public hospitals.

Its director of quality and safety, Leung Pak-yin, said the 31 public hospital mortuaries provided about 1,500 compartments.

To meet high demand for the next five to 10 years, the authority will spend HK$35 million on 220 new compartments this year and, depending on the availability of funds, may build another 330 next year.

Dr Leung said the authority would also discuss with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to see whether cremations could be expedited to cut the time bodies spent in mortuaries.

'We will also develop an information system in the mortuaries to help minimise the risk of wrong identification of the bodies through a bar-coding system. We hope the system can be implemented in all the mortuaries by the end of the year,' he said.

Prince of Wales chief executive, Fung Hong, said he had asked the mortuary's manager to strengthen compliance and staff training.

The employee responsible for the mix-up has been reassigned to duties unrelated to body identification.