A Minnesota hospital has the weighty task today of explaining, and subsequently apologizing, as to how the body of a stillborn infant went missing from the morgue, only to show up at a laundry service miles away. Officials say they still have questions about the sequence of events that led to the unfortunate handling and discovery of the body.
Hospital officials say the baby boy was born stillborn at 22 weeks of development on April 4, and was wrapped in linens at the morgue.
From there, someone accidentally sent the sheets off to the laundry service to be cleaned, apparently unaware that the baby’s body was included, reports the Associated Press. The hospital says it’s been trying to get in touch with the family of the infant.
“This was a terrible mistake, and we are deeply sorry,” the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said in a statement. “We have processes in place that should have prevented this but did not. We are working to identify the gap in our system, and to make sure this does not happen again.”
The hospital handles about 2,500 births per year, with 20 to 25 of those infants arriving stillborn. The families of those babies can choose to make their own arrangements or the hospital works with community groups to provide burial or cremation. Citing patient privacy laws, the chief nursing officer wouldn’t say which option the baby’s family had chosen.
“We are really sorry and saddened that this event happened,” she said. “This has never happened before that I am aware of, this unfortunate event.”
The hospital has offered support and counseling to the employees of the laundry service along with the hospital workers involved, as it has been hard on everyone.
“That’s our No. 1 concern, our patients, our families. We’re deeply troubled,” the rep said.
Minn. Hospital Says It Mishandled Stillborn’s Body [Associated Press]