The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Washington Hospital Center. They get the award for the following.
Washington Hospital Center has been fined $8,000 by the District for storing the remains of 95 stillborn babies and fetuses dating to 2001, far beyond the 30-day limit imposed under city law.
The remains were kept in the hospital morgue refrigerator, most of them unclaimed by parents or next of kin.
Senior hospital officials notified city health officials about the remains at a Jan. 3 meeting, shortly after being alerted themselves by hospital pathologists.
The hospital agreed to notify parents and make arrangements for the disposal of the remains by Thursday, according to a Jan. 4 letter to Health Director Gregg A. Pane and obtained by The Washington Post. Janis M. Orlowski, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the hospital, said yesterday that the hospital hired a private investigator to locate remaining parents.
In the letter, Orlowski said the problems began at the end of 2000, when a new policy extended the time grieving parents were given to decide whether they wanted to make private funeral arrangements. Because of the retirement of one key employee and the death of another, the remains were not disposed of, even as the 30-day deadline passed, the letter said.
The 95 deaths in question occurred between 2001 and 2006. Hospital administrators said they learned in November from the pathology department that the remains were stored in a morgue refrigerator box measuring 2 feet by 2 feet by 4 feet, Orlowski said.
At the time the letter was sent, the hospital had 23 sets of remains -- nine from 2006 and 14 from the prior five years -- for which they had no written authorization on how to dispose of them.
Losing a child is a terrible experience, something I'm all too familiar with. This Hospital's actions are inexcusable, these babies needed to be treated with respect for the life they were, not like they were a piece of meat.
For bureaucratic oversight and lack of respect for the dead, Washington Hospital Center is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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