Coroner shocked to find dead man lying in his morgue was ALIVE when hospital sent him there

Coroner shocked to find dead man lying in his morgue was ALIVE when hospital sent him there
Kevin Reid (inset) was in a ward at Rockingham General on September 5 when nursing staff concluded he had died (Google Maps, Twitter/@westaustralian)

PERTH, AUSTRALIA: A 55-year-old man in palliative care at a hospital was allegedly placed into a body bag and taken to the morgue while he was still alive.

The allegations are being investigated by the coroner's court, including claims that a doctor at Rockingham General Hospital was asked to backdate the man's death certificate, which he denied. The man, who has since been identified as Kevin Reid, was reportedly in a ward at the hospital on September 5 when nursing staff concluded he had died and informed his family. He was subsequently transferred to the morgue, albeit no death certificate had been issued. The following day a doctor made a shocking discovery when asked to certify the man's death.

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As reported by Business News, evidence from the doctor sent to the coroner's office indicated "frank blood" was found on Reid's hospital gown, his eyes were open, and he was lying in a different position than how he had been placed. “I believe the frank blood from a new skin tear, arm position, and eye signs were inconsistent with a person who was post-mortem on arrival at the morgue,” the doctor wrote in his report to the coroner. He recorded the man's death as September 6, but he was reportedly under pressure from senior staff to backdate it. The doctor, however, refused to do so and notified their department head. “I also specifically asked about open disclosure and coronial discussions to which I was told the executive team would ensure this occurred if deemed necessary,” the report added. 

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“When the bag is unzipped, according to the report that’s been sent to the coroner, there are telltale signs that the patient could not have been post-mortem, could not have been deceased at the time they were placed in the bag," Business News reporter Gary Adshead told Radio 6PR about the bizarre incident. “The doctor has noted that he observed what they call ‘frank blood’, which is very present fresh blood, from a skin tear that was on the arm of the patient. The arm positions were not correct either compared to the way that they had been placed after they were supposedly passed, and the eyes were open. The doctor knew full well that last rites had been performed, and the eyes had been shut.” 

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WA Deputy Liberal Leader Libby Mettam called for the Crime and Corruption Commission and a Royal Commission to launch a probe into the state’s health system, describing the alleged incident as "simply inexcusable and horrific." She added, “Our heart goes out to the family of the 55-year-old that is associated with these reports."

On the other hand, South Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Paul Forden strongly denied the claims that Reid had been placed into a body bag before he died. He said the hospital has launched its own inquiry. “The investigation is into procedures following the death of a patient not into whether the patient was deceased,” Forden said on Thursday. “I’ve talked to some senior pathologists and senior doctors, the human body is a complex organism and actually there is movement post-mortem, rigor mortis fluids are discharged close to death," he added.

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