Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Update from Montreal...

An update on a recent post:

*** *** ***

Montreal hospital to tighten measures after stillborn baby found in laundry
January 24, 2009

MONTREAL -- A hospital adopted new rules yesterday for handling dead babies after a stillborn child was accidentally taken out with the morgue's laundry.

The Lakeshore General Hospital will conduct routine body counts and keep dead babies in bassinets instead of leaving them on stretchers after a 34-week-old stillborn was found last week at an industrial laundromat.

After the baby died Jan. 14 from undisclosed causes, the body was covered in a blue blanket and carried by a nurse to a refrigerated room.

Later that night, the hospital had several adult deaths. Another attendant delivered an adult body, also covered by a blue blanket, into the room.

He removed the cover and tossed it on the neighbouring stretcher where the covered baby lay, apparently unseen.

In need of another stretcher, hospital officials say that the attendant scooped up what appeared to be a pile of laundry on the gurney and tossed it down the laundry chute.

The baby was discovered in an industrial washing machine two days later at Buanderie Qualité, a facility about 27 kilometres from the hospital, which is located in the Montreal suburb of Pointe-Claire.

Several workers were treated for shock.

Daniel Hébert, the laundromat's co-owner, said several of his workers are women and mothers.

"It was total panic, everyone was crying, it was terrible," Mr. Hébert told reporters.

The hospital conducted an investigation over the past week and concluded the attendant made a mistake but will not face disciplinary action.

The baby's body was returned to the custody of his parents for proper disposal.

"We're not interested in assigning blame, this certainly wasn't the intention of the employee," said Suzanne Turmel, executive director of the West Island health authority.

Ms. Turmel would not say whether the family, whose identity has remained confidential, received compensation or is contemplating legal action.

"We've tried to take care of the family in this situation. They were already coping with the death of an infant, which was obviously very hard for them," Ms. Turmel said.

Nora Zaklama, the head of pathology, said baby deaths are not routine events at the Lakeshore, where six babies died last year.

*** *** ***

I don't think anybody should lose their job over this. I'm sure whoever is responsible feels wretched.

At the same time, I wouldn't blame the family if they wanted to take legal action. This review of what happened & how it can be prevented in the future was certainly a step that all hospitals need to take. Why shouldn't babies be put into bassinets anyway, like any baby would?

Six deaths in one year may not be exactly "routine" -- but it's more than enough.

Other news stories on this:

Plan B for LGH

No punishment for worker in stillborn baby incident


  1. I have to say, I understand that accidents happen, but this never should have happened.

    The attendant had a responsibility. Which likely involved checking to see what was where. They failed.

    Usually I'm all about forgiveness, but this was an unconcionable oversight. They need to lose their job.

  2. Thanks for the update.

    I'm feeling a bit miffed by the "not routine" comment. It a) makes me feel like a freak, and b) makes it sound like they're trying to defend themselves. Like a few bassinets would be hard to acquire? Hopefully they won't need to use more than two at once? Yeesh. Poor family.

  3. I had no idea that hospital didn't have some sort of safeguard particularly for deceased infants. I mean, they're small, it would be very easy to "misplace" a child's body under many circumstances. There should be a special protocol to handle these situations - what about the dignity of the deceased? They've just RE-TRAUMATIZED the parents for crying out loud? How bloody difficult is it to just use a little care and respect?!!!!

  4. Thanks for the update. This is a really upsetting story and I hope the hospital improves its oversight.