April 17, 2011

Soon, autopsy in private medical college hospitals

From the next academic year, the state government would consider allowing private medical college hospitals do post-mortem examinations, senior health department officials in Chennai said.

Presently, post-mortems are done by the government medical college hospitals and district headquarters hospitals across the state. The only private hospitals authorised to do post-mortem examination is Sri Ramachandra University.

However, the announcement is being withheld as the election commission has enforced the model code of conduct. "When private hospitals can treat victims of road accidents, assault or murder, they should be able to handle post-mortems as well. This will also help the students in the medical colleges as forensic science is part of MBBS syllabus in the second and the third year," the official said. The private colleges willing to do post-mortems have to apply and permission will be granted after inspection, the official said.

The department had so far rejected applications from private colleges. But with shortage of forensic experts in the government sector, it has decided to reconsider the decision. The Karnataka government has already permitted private hospitals to conduct post-mortems.

Presently, for the 17 government medical colleges, there are just 20 qualified forensic surgeons. Eight of them are in the city colleges and hospitals. Madras Medical College has five, Stanley Medical College has two and Royapettah Government Hospital has one. There are two forensic surgeons each in Madurai, Thoothukudi and Theni, and one each in Chengalpet, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari and Vellore. In the government medical colleges in Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Dharmapuri, there are no qualified persons.

In the government hospitals, a MBBS or post-graduate doctor with any specialty is deputed to the forensic department for conducting post-mortems. A forensic expert is given only cases where the cause of death is a mystery or suspected murder. Doctors deputed to the department mostly handle accident cases. They will hand over the case to forensic experts if they think it deserves expert opinion. "Private hospitals can also do this," the official said.

Forensic experts at the government hospitals feel that this will bring down the work load in government hospitals and also offer medical students in private colleges a better learning environment. "Most students in private colleges do get to see a real-time post-mortem," he said.

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