Identification Error: Parents Receive Remains of the Wrong Deceased Infant, File $3M Lawsuit
May 27, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
The parents of an infant who died days after his birth filed a lawsuit seeking $3 million in damages against the hospital, a funeral home, and a mortuary service because an identification error caused hospital and funeral home employees to give the remains of another infant to the plaintiffs, according to a May 9, 2016 article published in the Oregonian. After their son's death, the plaintiff parents received the ashes of a baby girl who had been misidentified as their son. An employee from the hospital and an employee from the funeral home signed an information sheet confirming the transfer of the boy's body, but the identification number on the form actually belonged to an infant girl who had died three months previously. Unaware of the error, the plaintiffs held funeral services with the ashes, traveled to see family with the ashes, and placed them on a religious display. Five months later, the director of the funeral home met with the plaintiffs and informed them of the mistake. Although the error occurred in a hospital, the findings underscore the importance of strategies to prevent wrong-patient mistakes in all healthcare settings.