A Peruvian mother has claimed that she was forced to keep her dead baby's body in her fridge after a hospital, where the premature child was born, delayed in providing her with a death certificate.

Monica Palomino said that she delivered the baby on Saturday, 2 December, after a gestation period of just 25 weeks, and the child died on Monday. But her ordeal went from bad to worse when the hospital discharged her and asked her to take the deceased baby without giving her time to complete all the paperwork in order to process the death certificate.

Palomino alleged that the security personnel at the Sergio Bernales hospital in Lima's Comas District in Peru "gave me my son when I was discharged".

She told AFP, "He's in the refrigerator in my house because they did not give me the time to do the paperwork for his death certificate. I want to bury him but to do so I need the death certificate."

The woman said her baby is still in her freezer at home, where she has placed a sign that says "Do Not Touch".

Meanwhile, the hospital's director Julio Silva said on Wednesday that he would order an investigation into the incident. He added that he believes the security guards broke all the hospital's rules.

"I assume full responsibility. What should have been done is wait in the mortuary for the death certificate to be issued, to then be able to remove the body," Silva told AFP.

This is not the first time such inhumane behaviour by hospital staff has come to light. In May 2009, a woman from Crawley, West Sussex in England alleged that when she called a hospital after suffering a miscarriage while at home, she was advised to put the dead foetus in her fridge for two days until her scheduled appointment.

Sophie Hill said at the time that she had been "betrayed by the National Health Service [NHS]". The Daily Mail reported that the nurse who had advised Hill was put on leave but not disciplined.