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Patient was 'still alive' when nurses put him in a body bag and sent him to the morgue

Jess Hardiman

Published 
| Last updated 

Patient was 'still alive' when nurses put him in a body bag and sent him to the morgue

A patient was placed inside a body bag while he may have still been alive, according to a doctor’s report sent to the coroner. 

A 55-year-old man was in palliative care at Rockingham General Hospital near Perth, Western Australia, when he was declared dead on 5 September and subsequently placed in a body bag by staff. 

According to Australian outlet Business News, which first broke the story after obtaining a copy of the doctor’s report to the coroner, after family were informed of the death, the man was transferred to the morgue. 

No death certificate was issued – a detail that proves to be a crucial one. 

The next day, after an organ donation organisation contacted the hospital to ask for permission to take the deceased’s organs, a male doctor was asked to go into the on-site morgue to certify the death. 

But when he unzipped the body bag, he found fresh blood on the man’s hospital gown from a wound on his arm, while two of his limbs were reportedly in a different position they had been placed in, and his eyes were open. 

Rockingham General Hospital. Credit: Google
Rockingham General Hospital. Credit: Google

“I believe the frank blood from a new skin tear, arm position and eye signs were inconsistent with a person who was post-mortem on arrival at the morgue,” the doctor wrote in his report to the coroner. 

After opening the body bag and making the grim discovery, the doctor recorded the man’s death as 6 September, but the report claims he was under pressure from senior staff to backdate it – something they refused to do, before notifying their department head. 

“I also specifically asked about open disclosure and coronial discussions to which I was told the executive team would ensure this occurred if deemed necessary,” the report added. 

Speaking to Radio 6PR about the bizarre story, Business News reporter Gary Adshead explained: “When the bag is unzipped, according to the report that’s been sent to the coroner, there are telltale signs that the patient could not have been post-mortem, could not have been deceased at the time they were placed in the bag. 

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

“The doctor has noted that he observed what they call ‘frank blood’, which is very present fresh blood, from a skin tear that was on the arm of the patient.

“The arm positions were not correct either compared to the way that they had been placed after they were supposedly passed, and the eyes were open. 

“The doctor knew full well that last rites had been performed, and the eyes had been shut.” 

WA Deputy Liberal Leader Libby Mettam described what happened as ‘simply inexcusable and horrific’, calling for the Crime and Corruption Commission and a Royal Commission to launch an investigation into the state’s health system. 

“Our heart goes out to the family of the 55-year-old that is associated with these reports,” Mettam said. 

LADbible has contacted South Metropolitan Health Service, which runs the hospital, for comment. 

Featured Image Credit: Google/Picture Partners/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Australia

Jess Hardiman
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