Wrong body cremated after hospital mix-up
GEORGE TOWN: The failure to follow proper procedures in claiming bodies at the Penang Hospital resulted in a mix-up where a family ended up cremating the wrong person.
The incident began when police sent the badly decomposed body of Ho Swee Kim, in his 50s, to the hospital mortuary after he was found in a house at Paya Terubong on Sunday.
On Monday, the body of Fong Meng Tuck, 60, was sent to the mortuary after he died in an accident at about 2am.
Ho’s family went to the mortuary to identify the deceased and left after making the necessary arrangements.
theSun learned claimants have to make a visual identification of the body before the remains are released.
The mix-up happened when the body of Fong was released to undertakers engaged by the Ho family for funeral arrangements.
However, it is learned that this is not allowed because bodies can only be released to family members.
Thinking they got the correct person, the body of Fong was subsequently cremated, after Ho’s kin gave the go-ahead.
The Fong family only found out of what transpired after they went to the mortuary to claim his body and were shocked to be told that it had already been claimed.
Their grief was compounded after learning that the body had been cremated and final rites conducted.
Fong’s son Chee Keong, 32, told theSun the family was focusing on preparing his funeral. He said they wanted to make sure the final send-off was done properly before deciding on what to do next.
Chee Keong said efforts to verify the identity of the cremated remains were ongoing after hospital authorities took blood samples from family members.
Penang Hospital confirmed DNA tests were taking place.
A Health Ministry statement said the staff involved in the mix-up has been suspended pending disciplinary action.