Regions Hospital is apologizing for "mishandling" the body of stillborn baby discovered in a hospital bed sheet at a Red Wing, Minn., laundry service on Tuesday.
The body of a stillborn baby boy was found wrapped in bed linens by workers at Crothall Laundry. Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman said when officers arrived at the laundry service just before 12:30 p.m., the baby's body had already been picked up and returned to the St. Paul hospital.
Pohlman confirmed the baby had a tag on his ankle and was wearing a diaper, but said there is no indication of foul play.
"This was a terrible mistake, and we are deeply sorry," said Chris Boese, chief nursing officer at Regions Hospital. "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."
Regions Hospital said the baby's remains had been wrapped in linen in the hospital's morgue when he was stillborn on April 4, 2013 at 22 weeks gestational age. The remains and linens were mistaken for laundry that was sent for cleaning within 48 hours of the discovery.
When notified by the laundry service of the mistake, Regions officials immediately collected the remains and secured them according to proper procedures.
Regions Hospital is reaching out to the family to notify them of the mistake, to express deep apologies and to offer support. The hospital is also offering support and counseling to the employees of the laundry service.
Crothall Healthcare also released a statement about the incident. It can be read in full below:
Crothall Healthcare associates were deeply saddened by the discovery of the stillborn baby amid linens they were sorting at the Red Wing plant yesterday morning. Immediately upon discovery we contacted the hospital.
"Our hearts go out to all those who were affected by this tragic situation," commented President Steve Carpenter, "and we plan to offer support and counseling to all of our people at the plant."
Crothall will continue working with the police on any investigation.
Sadly, this isn't the only case in recent years of stillborn babies turning up in hospital laundry. In 2008, a Fort Worth, Texas hospital was sued for negligence when a baby's body was sent to the cleaners with the dirty linens. In 2009, the discovery of a stillborn baby in a Montreal hospital's laundry forced changes in procedure at both the hospital and laundry service.