PIMS hospital operating without a forensic laboratory

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the largest public sector hospital in the federal capital, operates without a forensic laboratory to determine the causes of serious and accidental deaths.

Sources said unqualified doctors run the affairs of the hospital’s forensic department.

According to available documents, the forensic department at PIMS Hospital is in complete disarray and the hospital lacks a dedicated forensic laboratory to determine the cause of death shrouded in mystery.

According to sources, autopsy reports of serious and accidental cases are sent back to Lahore for forensic testing due to lack of qualified forensic pathologists at PIMS Hospital.

Speaking to the media earlier, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel also admitted the absence of the dedicated forensic laboratory at the PIMS Hospital, saying that it will be set up shortly.

In February 2022, the PIMS Supplementary MLO sent a letter to the Medical Director requesting the appointment of forensic experts, but no progress was made in this regard, the sources said.

The letter from the unqualified doctors ran the business of the forensic department, pointing out that none of the officers had an advanced degree in forensic medicine to qualify for the position of medical examiner.

Interestingly, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Hyderabad have forensic experts but the federal capital lacks laboratory and forensic experts.

The sources said that the absence of forensic laboratory and experts in Islamabad also delayed the timely obtaining of autopsy reports of the late journalist Arshad Sharif, the daughter-in-law of senior journalist Ayaz Amir, Sara Inam and Noor Muqqadam.

The sources said lab reports of most cases and evidence is often missing from the hospital’s forensic department.

PIMS director Dr Khalid Masood said the hospital has forensic experts but lacks machinery and a dedicated lab to gather quick results.

He said that the government can take action in this regard and the Minister of Health assured that they were working in this regard.

He said that the medical university should have a forensic laboratory instead of the PIMS hospital.

Sources also said that without a forensic laboratory for various tests, Islamabad police still rely on conventional investigations, which often yield inferior or compromised results.

The sources said that in forgery, sexual assault and narcotics cases, police struggled to conduct full investigations without the possibility of forensic testing.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12e2022.

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