Dead baby left on mortuary trolley at Kwai Chung hospital

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 October, 2010, 12:00am

A dead baby was left on a mortuary trolley overnight after an assistant at Princess Margaret Hospital failed to follow guidelines that required the body to be put in a freezer.

No one noticed the tiny body, wrapped in a cloth, until a supervisor spotted it the following afternoon.

The incident happened last month. The Hospital Authority did not say when exactly, nor did it give the sex or age of the baby or cause of death. The hospital assistant, a contractor, has been sacked.

The incident, which was not disclosed until last night after media inquiries, was the second mortuary blunder to come to light this week.

The body of a 77-year-old woman was subjected to an unnecessary autopsy due to a chain of administrative errors by staff at the Fu Shan Public Mortuary on Tuesday.

Last night the authority said the hospital assistant used a trolley to transport the body of the baby to a storeroom for bodies in the hospital's mortuary. As well as not putting the body in the freezer, the assistant did not follow instructions requiring a form to be placed in a designated area for mortuary staff to check.

Next day, the supervisor who found the body told higher authorities. A pathologist was sent to examine the body and confirmed that it was in good condition. The hospital then contacted the baby's family.

Princess Margaret Hospital, in Kwai Chung, said it was very concerned about the incident. A spokesman said it would investigate, and review the procedures for handling bodies to prevent a recurrence.

He said the hospital would submit a report to the Hospital Authority.

Acting Secretary for Food and Health Professor Gabriel Leung expressed deep concern, and regret to the family. The bureau had told the authority to thoroughly investigate.

'Hospital staff should observe strictly the procedures and guidelines on handling bodies of deceased patients and avoid the recurrence of similar incidents,' he said.

In a previous blunder involving a dead infant, the body of a prematurely born baby who died in December 2008 went missing in January last year from Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, in Chai Wan. Police searched the Tseung Kwan O landfill, but were unable to find the body.