Woman’s body ‘turns to liquid’ in morgue

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A woman’s body lay unclaimed for two months in a hospital mortuary in a regional city. What happened next will horrify you.

Victorian woman Erin Patterson has been charged with murder over the deaths of three people after a meal at her Leongatha home in 2023. She has also been charged with five counts of attempted murder.

The body, which belonged to a 69-year-old woman, went unclaimed at Port Pirie Hospital for 71 days early last year.

Staff said her body evaporated and “turned into liquid”, leaving a “bad smell” in parts of the regional hospital in South Australia.

When staff finally came to move her, it took two body bags to transport the remains. The advertiser reported.

An investigation into the death is underway, with leaked documents showing the hospital had no rules on how to store bodies long-term or how to deal with dead ‘unclaimed’ patients.

Port Pirie Hospital has been hit by a number of scandals, including a “mix-up” involving a dead child and a miscarried fetus placed in a medical “bucket”.

South Australian Health Minister Chis Picton has expanded the hospital review to include mortuary processes following the harrowing revelation.

The dead woman was taken to the hospital mortuary from a retirement village on the Yorke Peninsula in November 2021.

A body was left unclaimed for two months in a mortuary at Port Pirie Hospital (pictured). Photo Dean Martin

Documents showed the hospital had no rules for monitoring unclaimed inpatients.

The woman’s body was kept in a 4 degree Celsius refrigerator, which according to national guidelines should only be used to store bodies for a few days.

If long-term storage is required, the body should be stored at -20°C according to national guidelines.

An employee told the publication: “It’s definitely not dignified. It’s not professional.”

Roger Kirchner, CEO of Yorke and Northern Local Health Network, said: “In every death and funeral it is important to respect the wishes of the person and family.

“We also respect that it sometimes takes time to make appropriate arrangements.

“We have worked closely with this person’s loved ones at every stage to ensure they were cared for as best as possible while these arrangements were made.”

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