VA staff left Veteran’s body to decompose in a shower for 9 hours

 In Veterans

Bay Pines, Florida  – A 24 page report from the Veterans Affairs Administrative Investigative Board shows that staff at the Bay Pines VA left a veteran’s deceased body in the shower room for at least 9 hours, after which they tried to cover up their actions by falsifying the post mortem care.

Fox 13 reported,

The report says hospice staff put the veteran’s body in the hallway of the hospice unit, leaving it there for an unspecified amount of time. Staff then put the veteran’s body in the shower room and did not “check on the status of the decedent… for over nine hours.”

The report also says someone working in the hospice unit “falsely documented post mortem care for the decedent.” It was unclear if the false documentation was determined to be intentional.

The report says hospice staff acknowledged that there was an increased risk of decomposition of the veteran’s body while it was left in the shower room.

The report also details procedures hospice staff is supposed to follow to avoid something like this from happening.

The report also stated that patient charts at the facility were “hard to follow” and could lead to mistakes in their care.

The hospital has not fired anyone, and they claim that the man was “prepared” for transport to the morgue and that there are no real guidelines for when should occur. We’re pretty sure that stuffing the body in a shower is not proper most-mortem care for any veteran.

Bay Pines released a statement that read in part:

“… It is true that the general issue identified in the article did, in fact, take place (A deceased Veteran was prepared for transportation to the morgue; however, transport took more than nine hours to occur)…

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. Some of these actions include recommitment by all hospice staff to VA’s core values, education and training, and review of policy and procedures. Furthermore, hospice nursing professionals were required to provide a signature commitment of understanding and adherence to policy and practice related to post mortem care.  Nursing safety rounds were also initiated as a way to ensure ongoing education and oversight within the unit.  Appropriate personnel action was also taken, however, I am not able to provide details as these actions are considered confidential between the agency and employees involved. We feel that we have taken strong, appropriate and expeditious steps to strengthen and improve our existing systems and processes within the unit.” Bay Pines

A Florida state legislator was not happy, and released a statement:

“I am deeply disturbed by the incident that occurred at the Bay Pines VA hospital, and even more distressed to learn that staff attempted to cover it up. The report details a total failure on the part of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and an urgent need for greater accountability. Unsurprisingly, not a single VA employee has been fired following this incident, despite a clear lack of concern and respect for the Veteran. The men and women who sacrificed on behalf of our nation deserve better.” Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

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