pennsylvania family sues hospital funeral home for prepping wrong body

Many people say that there is nothing harder than losing a loved one. For family members who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the first few days after the death can be a whirlwind. Family members are busy contacting other family members to inform them of the death, planning the funeral, picking a burial site, choosing a headstone and informing financial institutions of the death.

There are so many details to attend to immediately after the death that many individuals say their first chances to properly grieve happen at the viewing and during the funeral.

Imagine you’re a son or daughter or wife who is trying to process losing your father or husband. It’s been a hectic and overwhelming few days, and you’re ready to pay your respects when you arrive at the funeral home for the viewing. However, because of a horrible hospital error or funeral home error, the man in the casket is not your loved one. That is what recently happened to one Pennsylvania family.

When the family arrived at the funeral home for the viewing, they discovered that the wrong man’s body had been prepared for the viewing. The viewing had to be cancelled, and the proper body was eventually discovered back at the hospital.

The family is suing both the hospital and the funeral home for the negligence, but it will be interesting to see who is eventually held liable for the negligence.

According to a dean at the Pennsylvania Institute of Mortuary Science, members of the hospital staff are responsible for tagging and bagging bodies after they’re deceased. Morticians have no way of identifying the body, so as long as the tag says what it’s supposed to, the morticians have no way of knowing whether it’s the correct body.

If the hospital tagged the wrong body, then the hospital may be solely responsible for the tragedy the family suffered. However, if members of the funeral home took the wrong body, then they may be held more liable. Regardless of whose fault it is, this sort of error should never happen.

Source: Reuters, “Funeral Home Prepped Wrong Body for Viewing?” Stephanie Rabiner, Esq., April 4, 2012

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