Cremation mix-up: Employee who collected wrong body from funeral parlour has been suspended

Cremation mix-up: Employee who collected wrong body from funeral parlour has been suspended

File Photo
A file photo of a coffin. (Photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE: The funeral parlour and director involved in a mix-up that led to the cremation of a wrong body apologised on Monday (Jan 6) for the distress caused by their mistake.

Century Products funeral parlour and funeral director Harmony Funeral Care expressed their regret in a joint statement, after the body of Mr Kee Kin Tiong was cremated ahead of his funeral rites. They added that they took "full responsibility" for the mistake.

"We sincerely apologise to the family of the late Mr Kee Kin Tiong for the distress caused to them when we incorrectly collected his body and cremated him ahead of his funeral rites on Dec 30, 2019," they said. 

"We understand how important it is for family members to be able to send off their deceased loved ones in a manner that accords with their faith, and we deeply regret that the family of Mr Kee were unable to do so."

Mr Kee's body was wrongly cremated after he was mistaken for a different person.

READ: Funeral parlour's licence suspended, licensee to be charged after wrong body cremated: NEA

This happened when a Harmony Funeral Care employee mistook Mr Kee's body for another client's deceased relative when collecting the body from Century Products' embalming room. 

The employee "failed to follow established procedures" for the collection of bodies after embalming and has been suspended pending the outcome of investigations, said the statement.

Century Product's licence has been suspended and it is set to be charged, while Harmony Funeral Care has been barred from the use of Government after-death facilities at Mandai Crematorium and Choa Chu Kang Crematorium and Cemetery, the authorities said on Saturday.

IMPROVING PROCESSES

In their statement on Monday, Century Products said it will take "immediate steps" to improve their processes, following consultation with the National Environment Agency.

These include putting additional identification tags on the wrists and ankles of the deceased person and only removing them after the body has been received at a wake venue or crematorium.

Under current industry practice, a white cloth bearing the name of the undertaker's company and the address of the wake venue is placed over the body.

The new tags will have the deceased person's particulars as well as the address of the wake.

In addition, funeral staff and embalmers will be required to sign off on a checklist of procedures and controls, and customers will have to provide final confirmation of the deceased person's identity.

This is particularly so for cases of direct cremation without a wake, they said.

Other improvements include maintaining a logbook of bodies received and collected from the embalming facility at Century Products, tightening security to restrict access to the embalming room and installing a new video system outside the room.

Source: CNA/nc(hm)

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