Janitor removes organs at short-staffed morgue

A substitute janitor covering shifts at a hospital in southern Sweden ended up emptying more than the waste bins when no doctors were available to carry out autopsies.

Janitor removes organs at short-staffed morgue
The janitor, who lacks any formal medical training, jumped in to help perform at least two autopsies at the morgue at Kristianstad Central Hospital last summer.
"It felt just fine," the janitor told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
Prior to the solo operations, the janitor, who normally makes deliveries or moves beds at the hospital, had also pitched in on previous autopsies, helping doctors remove organs and corneas.
Leif Gillving, section chief for clinical pathology in Kristianstad, admitted that having the janitor extract organs from corpses "wasn't an ideal solution", but defended the decision to allow him to help, citing staff shortages related to the summer holiday period.
"I was a bit sceptical. The person isn't trained, but has assisted during autopsies for quite some time," he told the paper.
Doctors at Uppsala University Hospital, where only specially-trained pathologists are allowed to perform or assist on autopsies, were shocked by the news.
"It sounds totally absurd," Eva Wästerlund, the head of pathology at Uppsala, told Sydsvenskan.
But Lena Luts, head of clinical pathology for health services in Skåne, didn't find fault with the practice.
"The person had competence to perform the duties that he carried out and that competence comes from experience," she told the TT news agency.
She said there is no requirement that the janitor have formal medical training, claiming that the controversy surrounding the incident stems from confusing the removal of organs with a formal autopsy.
"There is always a pathologist that is responsible for the autopsy. Autopsy assistants can help the doctors with preparations and assisting, for example, with the removal of different organs," Luts told TT.
Speaking with Sveriges Radio (SR), Luts emphasized that "he never performed an autopsy by himself".
TT/The Local/dl

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