A Florida VA hospital has confirmed that it left a veteran’s body on the floor of a shower room for over nine hours after a report brought the incident to light and alleged a cover up.
Hospital staff at the Bay Pines VA hospital have been accused of attempting to cover up the incident the release of an internal investigation obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.
A report by the hospital’s Administrative Investigation Board blames hospice staff by stating they violated the Veterans Affairs policies by “failing to provide appropriate post-mortem care.”
“As reflected in the outcomes of our thorough internal reviews, it was found that some staff did not follow post mortem care procedures. We view this finding unacceptable, and have taken appropriate action to mitigate reoccurrence in the future,” said Jason Dangel, the public affairs officer for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare system in a statement.
The hospice staff members did not follow proper procedures after being told by an “individual described as the transporter for the body to be moved to the morgue,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. No one showed up to retrieve the body because the hospice staff never contacted dispatchers after being told by the transporter that was the proper procedure.
The veteran’s body was first moved to a hallway in the hospice, then to a shower room where it remained unattended for more than nine hours.
The heavily redacted hospital report, released in April, admits hospice staff “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect” for the veteran.
Dangel assured that the hospital has made changers to address the problems that were uncovered during the investigation.
“We view this finding unacceptable, and have taken appropriate action to mitigate reoccurrence in the future. Some of these actions include recommitment by all hospice staff to VA’s core values, education and training, and review of policy and procedures,” said Dangel in the statement. “Furthermore, hospice nursing professionals were required to provide a signature commitment of understanding and adherence to policy and practice related to post mortem care.”
Dangel claims there is no VA directive or policy that states how much time the VA can take to transport a veteran’s body to a morgue.
After news of the incident surfaced, the VA denied that there was a cover up of the incident.
“I can confirm the accuracy of most of what has been reported, but feel that the words “cover-up” or “hide” used by the Tampa Bay Times are highly inaccurate,” said Dangel.
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