Department of Health is investigating an incident in which a woman was
found alive in a mortuary fridge in Carletonville – hours after
paramedics declared that she was dead. The woman was certified dead at
the scene of a pile-up outside Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, in
the early hours of Sunday. The woman’s car rolled and all three
occupants were flung from the vehicle. Two were killed. Gauteng
Forensic Pathology Services CEO Dr Paul Morule said on Tuesday that
police called them to collect the dead bodies at the scene of the
crash. Morule added that a private emergency service declared the
people dead. “As per procedure, forensic officers collected the bodies
for storage and further investigations to determine the cause of the
death by [a] pathologist.” Morule said a forensic officer later found
her alive in a morgue fridge several hours after the crash.
He said the forensic officer “promptly summoned help” and was able to
transport the woman to the nearest hospital. On Monday, ambulance
service Distress Alert confirmed that they had certified the woman
dead. Distress Alert operations manager Gerrit Bradnick told AFP that
they followed their procedures. “All the right checks were done –
breathing, pulse – so the patient was declared deceased,” he said.
“The crew is absolutely devastated. We’re not in the business of
declaring living people dead, we’re in the business of keeping people
alive,” Bradnick added. The matter has been referred to the Health
Professions Council of South Africa. The department has been in
contact with the woman’s family. Netwerk24 reported that she was still
in critical condition in a Gauteng government hospital and that her
family had been informed.

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