ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota hospital apologized Wednesday for mishandling a stillborn baby whose body was found in linens that had been sent to an off-site laundry service.
Officials from Regions Hospital in St. Paul said the remains had been wrapped in linens in the hospital morgue and somehow were mistaken for laundry that was supposed to be sent out for cleaning. The body was found Tuesday by a laundry service employee.
"This was a terrible mistake, and we are deeply sorry," Chris Boese, the hospital's chief nursing officer, said in a statement. "We have processes in place that should have prevented this but did not. We are working to identify the gap in our system, and to make sure this does not happen again."
The hospital said the baby boy was stillborn on April 4, at 22 weeks of development.
During a news conference, Boese said hospital officials were still trying to reach the child's family — and trying to determine what went wrong. Later Wednesday, hospital officials confirmed they had reached the family but said they had no further information about them that they could release.
Regions Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the Twin Cities, handles about 2,500 births every year, and about 20 to 25 of the infants are stillborn, Boese said. Families of those infants are given the choice of making their own arrangements or allowing the hospital to work with community groups that take care of the burial or cremation.
Boese said patient privacy laws prevented her from saying if this baby's family had expressed a preference.
"We are really sorry and saddened that this event happened," she said, adding that hospital and laundry facility works were being offered counseling. "This has never happened before that I am aware of, this unfortunate event."