MUMBAI: The BMC has set up a seven-member committee to probe the shocking incident of a decomposed corpse of a 27-year-old tuberculosis patient, also Covid-positive, which went undetected in a toilet at the TB Hospital in Sewri for 14 days after the patient went missing. The body was in such an advanced stage of decomposition that it had became impossible to ascertain the gender.
The family of the deceased and civic officials have raised questions over the maintenance of the wards as the body went unnoticed for a fortnight, though the block toilets in each of the wards are supposed to be regularly cleaned and were also being used by other patients.
The civic body ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter on Sunday and issued show-cause notices to at least 40 hospital staffers in the Covid ward. The seven-member inquiry committee comprises BMC's deputy health executive committee, who is heading the committee, a doctor and supervisor from the Sewri TB hospital, one security-in-charge each, from the KEM and BYL Nair hospitals.
After scanning their records, authorities found that a 27-year-old patient, Suryabhan Yadav, had gone missing from the same ward on October 4. “We had filed a missing report complaint. We have had incidents wherein TB patients go missing from the hospital premises,” said Superintendent Dr Lalitkumar Anande.
Yadav was admitted to the Sewri hospital on September 30, after he tested Covid-positive and had been referred by a doctor in Goregaon. The hospital currently has 11 Covid patients. Yadav was in the male ward on the first floor. The staff, in their statement to the seven-member committee on Sunday, said they suspected that on October 4, Yadav must have gone to the toilet and collapsed out of breathlessness.
However, the hospital management said no patient or staffer had complained of a foul smell until October 18, when a ward boy realised one of the three locked cubicles was stinking. He climbed into the next cubicle and peeked over, only to find a corpse on the toilet floor. The hospital then informed police and sent the body to KEM Hospital, Parel, for a post-mortem.
Dr Anande added, “The toilets are cleaned thrice a day. Sometimes, it is occupied by patients and the cleaner/janitor may have left. But patients use those toilets regularly and should have got a whiff of the odour. We have issued notices to all staffers on duty in the ward."
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani, (health) told The Free Press Journal, that action would be taken against the guilty. He said, "We have formed a seven-member committee to investigate the matter. The committee visited the hospital on Sunday and will once again visit and speak to the staff on Monday. It is expected to submit its report by Tuesday or on Wednesday, at the latest."
He added, "Already a police complaint has been lodged by the medical superintendent of the hospital and local police are investigating the matter too."
A similar incident had occurred at Jalgaon Civil Hospital, where a senior citizen had gone missing on June 2 and a missing complaint was filed by her family. On June 10, a hospital staffer found the decomposed body of the 82-year-old woman in the washroom.