Fla. hospital staff leaves veteran’s body unattended for 9 hours, report says

Staff members at a Florida hospital left the body of a veteran unattended in a shower room for more than nine hours, then tried to cover up the mistake, according to a hospital investigation.

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The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday that the incident took place in the hospice unit of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Seminole. The 24-page hospital report, which was issued in April and heavily redacted, was obtained by the Times through a Freedom of Information Act request. More than 30 witnesses were interviewed by investigators.

No information was provided about the veteran, who died in February.

Hospital spokesman Jason Dangel told the Times that “appropriate personnel action was taken,” although he did not elaborate on whether workers were disciplined or fired. Dangel said that the hospital ordered retraining and a change in procedures.

According to a report filed by the hospital’s Administrative Investigation Board, some hospice staff violated policies by “failing to provide appropriate postmortem care.”

After the veteran died, hospice staff members made “direct verbal requests” to move the body to the morgue. A person described as a transporter, who fielded the request, told hospice staff to contact dispatchers. According to the report, that request was never made, the Times reported.

The body was originally moved to a hallway in the hospice, then taken to a shower room, where it remained unattended for more than nine hours, according to the report.

Reports that “falsely documented” the incident hampered efforts by hospital officials to properly investigate, the Times reported.

The hospital report concluded that some hospice staff “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect for the veteran,” the Times reported.

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