New autopsy rules a positive step in the right direction, says Kerala forensic surgeon
In a major shift, the Centre on Monday allowed conducting post-mortem after sunset in hospitals with adequate infrastructure, except cases of homicide, suicide, rape, decomposed bodies and suspected foul play. The change in the rule is aimed at easing the decade-old method in favour of organ donation, and organ harvesting in the country.
However, the situation in the country, especially in Kerala, is completely different in terms of the availability of required lighting and infrastructure needed for performing post-mortem during the wee hours.
“For the last 15 years or more, people have been facing this issue. Normally, after 4 pm the bodies are not generally accepted for post -mortem. This is because there would be 3 to 4 post-mortems already. Even so, the post-mortem procedures could only be completed by 7 pm or 8 pm every day. There are many reasons for this. But, the new rule is a positive step in the right direction,” Dr PB Gujral, Senior Forensic Surgeon told mathrubhumi.com.
The protocol stipulates that post-mortem for organ donation be taken up on priority and conducted even after sunset at hospitals which have the infrastructure. “The major issue we are facing is lack of infrastructure and technology in our state. This is the first major problem we should tackle before we could conduct a post-mortem during the night. Secondly, we lack state-of-the-art post-mortem laboratories that are adequately equipped with modern technologies in Kerala, other than some private laboratories” he said.
He pointed out the need for natural light and the technical difficulties while conducting post-mortems. “The natural light is very important when we are conducting post-mortem. The reason behind is that in artificial light of tube lights or LED, the colour of the injury appears purple instead of red."
He pointed out that the staff in these mortuaries and labs had to spend more than the normal working hours due to shortage of available manpower. “The new ruling has put forth a lot of changes already followed in the state for years. Post-mortem is conducted during night only in the case of law and order situation needing immediate attention. It was a rule that was followed in the state for years. Especially, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I spent hours working overtime to conduct post-mortem of several cases,” he said. He also added that there is an increase in autopsy cases despite most of them being unnecessary.
“It is impossible to implement the new ruling outright. The government should find one hospital in each district where they could set up necessary facilities to conduct post-mortem more efficiently. Further, the need for more staff should also be taken into consideration,” he stated. He also pointed out that forensic surgeons should be adequately recruited into service to deal with the situation.