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Aug 29, 2005

Stillborn baby sent out with K.H.M.H. laundry

Story PictureA Belize City mother’s painful miscarriage was made worse last Friday when a horrible hospital mix-up sent her child’s body to the laundromat with the dirty linens. According to authorities at the K.H.M.H., five minutes after one on Friday morning, a five-month-old foetus weighing two pounds, four ounces, was delivered during a stillborn miscarriage at the government owned facility. Hospital protocol called for the body to be wrapped, taped and properly labelled for disposal via incineration or to be handed over to the family for burial. But somewhere along the way something went very wrong and the wrapped body was bundled with the laundry and delivered to the contracted sanitation company, in this case, Belize Dry Cleaners. This afternoon hospital officials maintained that the incident has prompted a thorough review of the policies in place.

Dr. Alvaro Rosado, Chief Executive Officer, K.H.M.H.
“I would like to start off by expressing sincere regrets, and on behalf of the K.H.M.H. Authority, our sincere sympathies to the family involved. Whereas this incident might be explainable, it certainly is not acceptable.”

“There are specified times for the pick-up of dirty linens in the hospital. I believe we do a pick-up at seven o’clock in the morning. What occurred, from the investigations we conducted, was that the nurses on duty who delivered the foetus, wrapped as is standard procedure the foetus and placed it in a room where there is an extra bed, and that was left there. According to the nurses on the night shift, who handed over to the morning shift, the presence of the foetus in the spare room was indicated to the shifts taking over. We have not been able to talk to everybody because of the nature of the hospital where some people work and then are off for three days or four days, whatever the case?we have not been able to contact everybody. But there seems to be conflicting stories as to whether in fact the indication was properly given that there was a foetus there. At seven o’clock in the morning, the laundry attendant does his rounds and picks up laundry. According to the laundry attendant, he picked what he considered to be the dirty laundry from that ward.”

Janelle Chanona
“Did you all discover that’s what had happened or did Belize Dry Cleaners called you and say, look we have something here for you?”

Dr. Alvaro Rosado
“To the best of my knowledge, we were aware that something was wrong when the family requested a viewing of the foetus and that is when the wheels started turning. I am not totally aware of who said what or who did what. I do know that based on our discovery that the foetus was not where it should have been, the investigations or whatever was done afterwards revealed that the foetus had in fact been sent to cleaners.”

Janelle Chanona
“Dr. Rosado, has anything remotely similar to this happened before at the K.H.M.H.”

Dr. Alvaro Rosado
“I must say yes, in the sense that what we are considering here is what we call body tissue. This is not a child if you want to put it that way, and I do know that there had been times when body tissues have gone to laundry inadvertently before, meaning body parts that kind of thing.”

“The protocol is in place. When a foetus is delivered at the ward, that foetus is wrapped, taped, and labelled. That we considered enough precaution to make sure that people understand what this is. Obviously something went wrong and what we might have to introduce now is a system where the wrapper, the labeller, the taper might have to sign off saying that I labelled and I taped this and it was put here or placed here or given to somebody’s custody. And the matter of body parts that something went wrong, there was no communication, we have to remember that here you have dirty linens being collected at seven o’clock, there you have a sheet with body tissue in it, with a foetus in it, that will probably be disposed of, but we cannot do it until the patient is discharged. That is where the problem might have come in and we have to change that and say, well if there is a foetus involved, it probably should not be around here at all, maybe it should be taken to the morgue. And those are the things that we are looking at now.”

According to Dr. Rosado, the hospital has a specific group called the Red Waste Team, who are called in to dispose of body tissues. We understand that Belize Dry Cleaners forms part of that team and using established medical protocols, cleans the hospital’s laundry on the second floor of their facility in machines separate from those used by the public.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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