A Minnesota hospital apologized Wednesday after a worker at its off-site laundry service discovered a stillborn baby in linens being prepared for laundering. Police are trying to find how the baby ended up at the facility.
Officers were called to Crothall Laundry Services in Red Wing, Minn., on Tuesday after the body of a 22-week-old stillborn boy tumbled out of a bed sheet being prepared for cleaning, The Associated Press reports. The linens originated from Regions Hospital in St. Paul, about 40 miles away.
The baby had a tag on its ankle and was wearing a diaper. On being informed, hospital officials were prompt to collect the body.
The hospital, which delivers about 2,500 babies each year and has about two stillborns each month, said in a statement the body was wrapped in sheets in the hospital morgue that were mistaken for laundry.
"We're deeply saddened and troubled that this happened and want to make sure that it never happens again," Chris Boese, chief nursing officer at the hospital, was quoted as saying. "This was a terrible mistake, and we are deeply sorry. 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."
"Obviously, this hits close to home for those of us who work in health care," said hospital spokesman Vince Rivard.
"It's hard to understand how it happened," Cathi Lammert, president of Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance, was quoted as saying. "We have to be very careful with those little ones. They're very tiny. I'm sure it's an error the hospital really feels very bad about it."
This is the first time the hospital has lost the remains of an infant, the hospital said. Families are allowed to choose if they want to make their own arrangements or allow the hospital to work with community groups for burial or cremation.
Red Wing Police requested assistance from the St. Paul Police Department, and investigators found the boy was stillborn April 4. Boese said it is not unusual for a baby's remains to stay in the morgue for an extended period of time.
An investigation is underway to find how the stillborn got transported to the laundry facility.