Parents Sue Boston Hospital Accused Of Discarding Their Late Child's Body As 'Soiled Linen'
The newborn developed significant bleeding in her brain and died two weeks later.
by Kui Mwai
June 28, 2022 at 1:35 pm
Alana Ross and Daniel McCarthy, whose late child’s remains were lost, are suing Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Boston hospital where Ross gave birth, The New York Times reports.
Ross gave birth to the couple’s first child, named Everleigh Victoria McCarthy, on July 25, 2020, three months early. The newborn quickly developed significant bleeding in her brain. Ross and McCarthy, however, remained hopeful and cared for their daughter.
Two weeks later, doctors told the parents that Everleigh wasn’t going to make it. She was taken off the ventilator and passed away on Aug. 6.
Nurses cleaned the baby and put her in a white gown, while Ross and McCarthy were faced with the task of planning Everleigh’s funeral. Later, the funeral home attempted to pick up Everleigh’s body, when hospital employees said her remains could not be found. Boston police officers determined that her body “was probably mistaken as soiled linen” and discarded, according to the Times.
“It’s like she died all over again,” Ross told The New York Times.
Police interviewed a hospital pathologist who told them that only pathologists were allowed inside the hospital morgue’s examination room. Additionally, they said no used linen had been removed the day after Everleigh’s body was brought there.
According to a police report, the pathologist later admitted that he saw linen on a tray and disposed of them in a bag allocated for soiled materials. Police were also informed that after being discarded, linen is taken to a cleaning service with an onsite compactor. From there, a waste management company sends hospital waste to landfills in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Officers and hospital employees searched one of Boston’s waste centers for hours but didn’t find the body. Police came to the conclusion that Everleigh’s body had not been put in the “proper area where deceased children” are placed inside the morgue cooler, the Times reports. According to the lawsuit, her remains were likely sent to one of the landfills or incinerated.
Ross and McCarthy filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Thursday. According to one of their lawyers, Greg Henning, they are not seeking a specific amount of money. Their ultimate goal is to make sure this never happens to another parent.
“We don’t want anybody else to go through this,” Ross said. “We want the hospital to be held accountable. We want them to fix this.”
Dr. Sunil Eappen, Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s chief medical officer, shared his condolences to Ross and McCarthy via a statement released on Thursday.
“Our deepest sympathies and most sincere apologies to the Ross and McCarthy family for their loss and the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding it,” Eappen said, according to the Times.
Eappen continued, saying, “As with any instance in which there is a concern raised related to our standard of care or practice … we readily and transparently shared the details with the patient’s family. We always evaluate both system and human factors that contribute to errors or potential issues raised by patients, family members or staff and take action. Due to pending litigation, we are unable to comment specifically on this case.”