Man Sent to Morgue "Was Alive" and Tried to Get Out of Bodybag, Claimed Doctor

Doctor found man with his eyes open.

A doctor in Australia said a man who was sent to the morgue was alive and may have tried to get out of his body bag, the Telegraph reports. It's the stuff of nightmares, and administrators at the hospital involved surely wish they could wake up. Read on to find out what evidence made the doctor reach that conclusion, how the hospital reacts, and what the local government has to say about it.

1
Evidence Man Died in Morgue, Not Before

Shutterstock

On Sept. 5, Kevin Reid, 55, was pronounced dead at Rockingham General Hospital in Western Australia. His family was notified and he was taken to the morgue. The next day, a doctor who certified the death found signs that he may have been alive when he was taken to the morgue. Hospital staff told the doctor that Reid's body had been placed in a resting position, in a clean gown, with his eyes closed. But the doctor found Reid with his eyes open and fresh blood on his gown, suggesting he had died after he had been left there.

2
Doctor Asked to Change Date of Death

Shutterstock

The doctor certified the death on Sept. 6 but was later asked to backdate it to Sept. 5. He then reported his concerns about the death to the coroner's office. "I believe the fresh 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 to the coroner. According to the Guardian, the doctor has quit his job at the hospital. "I believe there is governance, compliance and integrity issues," he wrote in his report to the coroner.

3
Coroner's Office Investigating

Shutterstock

"After receiving notification from a doctor at the Rockingham Hospital of the death of a 55-year-old man, the coroner's court commenced to investigate whether the death is a reportable death," a coroner's office spokesman said. "The court does not make public any of those investigations."

4
Politicians React

Shutterstock

Some politicians said the incident was evidence that the country's healthcare system was overstressed. Libby Mettam, deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Western Australia, called the story "absolutely horrific." "It is also deeply disturbing that a direction may have been given to a doctor to backdate the death certificate of this patient," she said. "What more needs to happen in this health system before the government takes the crisis across our health system seriously?"

5
Did Body Move After Death?

Shutterstock

Paul Forden, chief executive, of the South Metropolitan Health Service, said that Reid was not alive when placed in a body bag and that it was possible the body moved after death. "The human body is a complex organism and actually there is movement post-mortem, fluids are discharged close to death," he said, adding that the hospital was investigating "procedures following the death of a patient, not into whether the patient was deceased."

Filed Under
 •