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Ghana: Clinician dumps baby in morgue ‘alive’

A physician assistant at a hospital in Ghana’s Upper East Region has reportedly dumped a baby in morgue despite being told the child is alive.

The physician declared the baby boy dead, unaware that the infant was only in “coma”.

Even though the baby reportedly jerked back to life, the health officer insisted the boy was dead and dispatched the body to the morgue.

Grieving relatives are outraged at the development claiming their child was killed prematurely by the health official.

They want to take action against the hospital as police investigate the issue.

How it happened

Family members say the child was taken ill with an undisclosed condition. He was then rushed to the hospital where he was admitted on Sunday.

A police report said the physician assistant, whose name authorities at the hospital only mentioned as Dr Tony, “clinically” pronounced the child dead whilst receiving treatment.

But moments after the sobbing relatives had arrived at home with the body for burial, they purportedly detected the boy was still breathing.

Without a second thought, they rushed the child back to the hospital in the hope that, with further care, he would get well.

But then again Dr Tony insisted the baby was dead. He instructed a mortuary attendant to deposit the body at the morgue for preservation without the consent of the child’s family.

The hospital’s authorities admitted there was argument between the clinician and the family— one side asserting that the child was alive and the other insisting that he was dead— as the mortuary attendant concentrated on the job he had been instructed to do.

The hospital which happens to be the top health facility in that part of Ghana has come under intense pressure from the family who holds a very strong view that their child did not die until the boy, on the doctor’s instructions, was wheeled on a trolley into the morgue and kept inside the cold and dark dead house.

Poor Communication

The hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Patrick Atobrah, told Accra based radio station Starr News that “Apparently, the prescriber saw the child and he declared dead.

Then, when they went home, the head of family was called. So, he thought that the child had life in him. That’s about three hours later.

So, he brought the child back and met the same person. But apparently, the clinician called a colleague. The colleague came and examined and said that the child was dead. But we thought that the communication was also not good.

It was the communication that was not apt, because this was a family in distress and we thought he (the physician assistant) could have done better with the communication.

Atobrah adds that “After the other clinician came and examined and confirmed that the child was not alive, he should have informed the family. That is why the family was not satisfied with the response. We agree with the parents and we apologized.

Ultimately, we cannot tell who is right or who is wrong. But we expected that we could have communicated better to the family when the family had their doubts”.



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