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Minn. Hospital Says It Mishandled Stillborn’s Body

(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — An investigation is underway as to how the body of a stillborn baby boy ended up at a laundry service.

Workers at a Red Wing laundry service discovered the 22-week-old baby’s body Tuesday afternoon, while they were getting ready to wash linens. Inside the pile of laundry was the body of a boy. He was in a diaper and had an ID bracelet on his ankle.

Regions Hospital says the baby came from their St. Paul morgue, and they apologized for the mistake on Wednesday.

“On behalf of Regions Hospital, we are really sorry and saddened that this event happened,” Regions’ chief nursing officer Chris Boese said.

Boese said the baby was stillborn on April 4, and then placed in the hospital’s morgue.

She said it’s not uncommon for a stillborn baby to be in the morgue that long, but how it got caught in the linens is unclear.

“This has never happened before that I’m aware of,” Boese said.

According to the Associated Press, there have been a dozen similar incidents that occurred between 1996 and 2009 at hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.

In some cases the body went through the wash before it was found.

Boese said there are 20 to 25 stillborn births a year at Regions, and they are trying to reach out to the family of this one.

“That’s our number one concern is our patients and our family,” Boese said. “So we are deeply troubled that this happened and want to make sure it never happens again.”

In the meantime they are offering counseling to both laundry workers and hospital workers who were affected.

“Very unusual — I just feel bad for employees that made this discovery,” Red Wing Police Department Capt. Darold Glander said.

Glander said there is no foul play involved, just a tragic mistake.

Regions said they are investigating and it’s too early to say if anyone will be punished.

WCCO did talk with an attorney who handles these kinds of cases, and the attorney said the hospital could face a lawsuit based on emotional distress that the family has endured.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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