VISAKHAPATNAM: With staff crunch and lack of infrastructure hitting the department of Forensics and Toxicology at Andhra Medical College, the dignity of the dead is being stripped of at the KGH mortuary, the biggest hospital in the region. Not only is the shortage of manpower causing a delay in performance of the post-mortem operations, but allegedly, many regular cases are directly being handled by two helpers who are not authorised to do the autopsies.
In place of the required eight faculty, only three members - two assistant professors and an associate professor are doing the post-mortem tests with the aid of two helpers.
“Staff crunch disturbs both academic classes and the postmortem operations. We are overburdened and are working in three shifts,” said in-charge HoD and associate professor of department of Forensics Dr V Chandrasekhar.
Sources from KGH said that the postmortems for common cases are being done by the two helpers alone and only the sensitive and major cases are dealt by the professors. Due to lack of staff, a delay in the disposal of body is occurring leading to building up of unhygienic conditions at the mortuary.
Admitting that there is a staff crunch in the department, in-charge principal of Andhra Medical College (AMC) Dr Kameswari said that they are managing with the present staff, who are working in three shifts. “Even though the work burden is high, we are managing on shift basis. But during major mishaps like fire accidents and fatal road accidents, the situation becomes very tough to handle as procedures tend to become time-consuming. Postgraduate students are reluctant to join forensic medicine,” lamented Dr Kameswari.
Lack of enough equipment to preserve bodies is also making it difficult to treat the bodies as per rules and give due dignity to the dead. In the mortuary, most of the cold storage units or freezers are found to be defunct, emanating foul smell from the place. With only eight of 20 cold freezers in working condition, the staff is finding it unmanageable to preserve the unidentified bodies that lie in the defunct freezers creating unhygienic conditions to operate on new bodies.
According to Dr Chandrasekhar, there are two six-body-capacity freezers and three or four two-body-capacity freezers. But at present, they are able to provide freezer facility for just six to eight bodies. “We are also having a problem of power supply and have no generator,” he added. Responding on the issue, Dr Kameswari pointed out that the unidentified bodies are a major problem. We will be in constant touch with the police to see if anybody claims the bodies. A few of the unclaimed bodies are used by the Anatomy department of the college.