Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has warned of severe action against the Kajang Hospital staff whose error caused the undesirable cremation of a dead Muslim convert patient.

Error in handover process due to similar patient names

Noor Hisham said the Selangor Department of Health was conducting an in-depth study into the 74-year-old man’s case. This came after the hospital confessed that a mistake had occurred during the handing over process of the body to the next-of-kin.

“The Ministry of Health regrets and takes a serious view of the incident. The ministry maintains that such a mistake should never occur at any hospital,” he stated. He clarified that hospitals and forensic units adhered by guidelines and standard operating procedures for the handing over of bodies to the next-of-kin.

Recent tabloids reported that the body of Muslim convert Hassan Abdullah, whose original name was Lin Ah San alias Lim Ah San, was cremated according to Buddhist rites. The Forensic Unit of Kajang Hospital had handed over the body to a Buddhist welfare centre on 3 June and he was cremated the following day according to Buddhist rites.

His body was mistaken for that of another deceased patient, Chu Kim San who was also in his 70s. Al-Fikrah Malaysia Care Centre discovered this error when they went to claim Hassan’s body, as he was a resident of the home. The chairman, Mohd Azmi Md Zaid said that the confusion occurred due to the presence of two bodies of Chinese men with similar names at the unit.

Health Ministry condemns such mistakes

Noor Hisham expressed that the ministry regarded the mistake seriously and expressed his regret over the matter. “This shouldn't have happened at hospital for that matter because every hospital and its Forensic Department have specific guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP) of forensic medicine which outlines the process of handing over the deceased to their next of kin,” he stated.

“Stern action will be taken against the staff who did not comply to the SOP and guidelines,” said Noor Hisham.

He said Hassan was staying at a Muslim welfare home in Kajang and was the only Muslim convert in his family. “The ashes of the deceased have been handed over to the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (MAIS) welfare home,” he continued.

In regards to this incident, MAIS said it wanted the Kajang Hospital to carry out a thorough investigation and compose a comprehensive report on this mishap. The chairman, Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa, urged that the hospital review and better its procedures to avoid similar future incidents. The Health Ministry also issued orders for immediate procedural improvements at Kajang hospital. MIMS

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