A Health Regulatory Entity (ERS) concluded that, in the last years, there was several exchanges of bodies in the morgue of the Algarve University Hospital Center (CHUA), in Faro.
Last November, the body of a French man in his sixties was cremated, thinking it was that of an Englishman around 80 years old, a case that took the CHUA Board of Directors to make the position available.
It has now emerged that this was not the only failure at the morgue.
In an ERS report, non-compliance with the procedures for identifying bodies and handing them over to family members by CHUA professionals is reported.
In the deliberation, to which Lusa had access, the regulatory entity ERS issued an instruction to the CHUA to “permanently and effectively” follow user identification procedures postmortem and considered that these were not correctly followed by professionals, in reference to cases of changes in identity and delivery of bodies to families or funeral agencies.
The procedures for identifying and delivering corpses to the CHUA were analyzed by the ERS following news that, in November 2022, reported an error in the identification of two corpses in the morgue of the Hospital de Faro and the subsequent delivery and cremation of one of the bodies “against the wishes of the respective family”, justified the ERS.
The regulatory entity recalled that “the CHUA, in addition to regretting what happened, reported having ordered the opening of an investigation process”, but stressed that, “at the same time, the ERS became aware of the existence of other exchanges of bodies that took place at the CHUA”, which were also analyzed.
“Now, following the investigative measures initiated and, as well, the careful and rigorous analysis of the elements uploaded to the aforementioned files, it was possible to determine that, despite the CHUA having implemented, over the years, several procedures/standards relating to the identification of corpses and their subsequent delivery to family members and/or funeral agencies, they were not, in the various reported situations, correctly followed by the professionals at their service”, concluded the ERS.
The ERS considered that “it is urgent to guarantee full internalization and assumption of the obligations in question, as well as the permanent adequacy of the provider's behavior”, and that this work will only be effective “if the existing procedures are effectively complied with and respected by the professionals at your service , transversally, in all services” of the hospital unit.
After consideration, the CHUA was instructed by the ERS to “permanently and effectively comply with the procedures postmortem in force, particularly with regard to confirming the identification of corpses and their subsequent delivery to their respective families and/or funeral agencies”.
The Health regulator also asks the CHUA to “guarantee the adequate training of all employees involved in the operationalization of the procedures (…) either at the time of their integration, or through periodic recycling training actions of the content in question, whenever evidence non-conformities in their compliance”.
The CHUA must “permanently ensure that the procedures” applied “are known to its professionals and are effectively followed by them” to guarantee “standards of quality of care, recommendations and good practices”.
The ERS also requires that the CHUA send “documentary support of the effective implementation and execution of the other proposed and identified measures/actions” and that it carry out “internal audits in order to evaluate the execution of the procedures”.
According to SIC Notícias, the CHUA administration says that the situation has already been corrected and that two employees have been subject to disciplinary sanctions.