Two families sue hospital after relatives turn off life support for the wrong man
A major US hospital is facing legal action for switching off a patient’s life support system after approaching the wrong family for consent.
In April, Chicago’s Mercy Hospital admitted an unidentified unconscious man who had been found by police beneath a car, having sustained serious facial injuries.
Police identified him as Alfonso Bennett and his family were informed when the hospital called Mr Bennett’s sister, Rosie, on May 13 to tell her that her brother was in the intensive care unit.
Less than a week later on 20 May, doctors explained to Mr. Bennett’s family that they would need to take ‘him’ off the life support machine, the lawsuit states.
The family agreed and he passed away three days later on 23 May.
However, while making the funeral arrangements, the women received a phone call from another sister saying that Alfonso Bennett had just walked through her front door.
Police then took fingerprints from the body, then identified as Elisha Brittman, 69, who had been missing for some time.
When his family called, they said he had been missing for some time and they had called hospitals and morgues “everywhere” in hopes of finding him.
Ms. Brittman said: “It wasn’t just I just searched for him one day. It was every day. If I get off from work – keep searching. Talking with someone after work – ‘did you call, did you see?’.”
The families have now met when they attended their attorney’s office to announce that they were filing the joint lawsuit.
The suit claims that there were willful misconduct and negligence by the Chicago Police Department and Mercy Hospital, causing emotional trauma for both families.