Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Swedish morgue has janitor remove internal organs

A short-staffed morgue in Sweden is reportedly raising eyebrows by having a janitor assist with the autopsies. The janitor, who works for the hospital in southern Sweden in which the morgue is located, apparently took out the trash, as well as the internal organs from a number of bodies, starting last summer.

The janitor by the way is not some medical student who never got a break. He has no medical training whatsoever, yet helped perform at least two autopsies during the summer of 2013, and has since pinch hit for autopsy doctors, removing internal organs and even corneas. Incidentally, he also carried out the tasks more often associated with janitorial work.

The head of the pathology department admitted that tasking a janitor with an autopsy “wasn’t an ideal solution,” while pathologists in Uppsala said “It sounds totally absurd.”

Surprisingly, pathologist  Lena Luts of Skane though it was okay, ”The person had competence to perform the duties that he carried out and that competence comes from experience.” Experience he now has, but did not have before the summer.

Luts added that there is no requirement that the janitor have formal medical training. Which is also true, though perhaps irrelevant. We usually assume that the assistant at an autopsy does have at least a basic medical training.

The janitor, not surprisingly, has no problem with any of this, saying,  ”It felt just fine.”

The families of those autopsied seem not to have been asked for comment.

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