A Veterans Affairs Hospital left the body of a dead veteran in the shower for nine hours. It is reported that an internal investigation concluded that the staff at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System failed to provide proper postmortem care to the unnamed veteran. The report also stated that leaving the body for the prolonged period of time increased the chance of decomposition.
The veteran died in February after spending time in hospice care and the hospital’s administration has ordered retraining of the staff. Jason Dangel is the spokesperson for the hospital and has said that officials view what has happened unacceptable but have implemented changes to ensure that it does not happen again.
“We feel that we have taken strong, appropriate and expeditious steps to strengthen and improve our existing systems and processes within the unit,” Dangel stated. “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.”
It was discovered that once the veteran dies, hospice care staff members requested the staffer known as the transporter to get the body moved to the morgue. The transporter then told the hospice staff to follow the proper procedures and notify dispatchers. It was reported that the request was never made resulting with no one showing up to take the veteran’s body away.
The body was moved to a hallway in the hospice rather than being transported. It went from the hallway to the shower room where it was left unattended for more than nine hours. Some of the hospice staff members “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect” for the veteran according to the investigative report.
The report also found that the staff failed to check the 24-hour nursing report. That report would have indicated whether or not the death was reported properly. Staff failed to update a nursing chart that hindered efforts to determine who was in charge.