Four on chopping block after body mix-up
Four morgue staff members at Tuen Mun Hospital were suspended after they accidentally swapped two bodies on Wednesday, with one body being arranged to be taken to the Wo Hop Shek Crematorium by the wrong family.
The bodies were two men aged 83 and 84, sources said.
A hospital spokesman yesterday said the two were scheduled for identification procedures at around the same time on Wednesday morning.
One was sent for cremation after a short memorial at the hospital while the other was transported to a funeral home.
Eventually, relatives at the funeral home discovered the mix-up and notified the hospital.
The spokesman said: "We are very concerned and have spoken to the families involved on the phone and in person to apologize and send our condolences."
Four hospital staff members have been suspended from morgue duties, he added.
In the meantime, a committee will be set up to ascertain the cause of the mix-up and review body-identification protocol.
The Hospital Authority's head office have been notified of the incident, the spokesman said, adding: "The hospital has reminded morgue staff to conduct body-identification procedures carefully."
The last time such a mix-up occurred was in February. At the time, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital sent the wrong body to a public mortuary after mistaking her for another woman with a similar English name. However, they were 20 years apart in age.
This came as the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department yesterday said cremation and burial arrangements have been made for 1,878 of 1,897 bodies being stored at a Fu Shan facility.
The remaining bodies will be transferred to the Fu Shan Public Mortuary by the end of the month.
Also, in light of declining demand for cremation services as the seriousness of the fifth wave wanes, the department will reduce daily cremation sessions from 300 to between 130 and 140.