Staff at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Florida left a veteran’s body in a shower for nine hours after he died and proper pick-up procedures to the morgue weren’t followed.
The Tampa Bay Times reported on Sunday that an internal investigation found that staff at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System failed to provide appropriate post mortem care to the veteran’s body.
According to the investigative report, leaving the body unattended for so long increased the chance of decomposition.
The unnamed veteran died in February after spending time in hospice care. The hospital’s Administrative Investigation Board has ordered retraining for staff.
Hospital spokesman Jason Dangel said that hospital officials view the incident as unacceptable but have implemented changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He said:
We feel that we have taken strong, appropriate and expeditious steps to strengthen and improve our existing systems and processes within the unit.
It is our expectation that each veteran is transported to their final resting place in the timely, respectful and honorable manner. America’s heroes deserve nothing less.
The investigation discovered that, once the veteran died, hospice staff requested a staffer known as a “transporter” to move the body to the morgue.
The transporter told them to follow proper procedures and notify dispatchers, however that request was never made, so no one actually showed up to take the body away.
Instead, the body was moved to a hallway in the hospice and then to the shower room where it was unattended for more than nine hours.
Some hospice staff “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect” for the veteran, the investigative report concluded.
The investigation also discovered that staff failed to check a 24-hour nursing report which would indicate whether the death was reported properly and they also failed to update a nursing organizational chart which hampered efforts to determine who was in charge.