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Hospital Calls Wrong Family Following Tragic Death

A bizarre hospital mistake caused the suffering of two different families following a tragic death last weekend. The Modesto Bee reported on the mix-up caused by the Emanuel Medical Center.

Last week, Shawn Barlow a 40-year old deputy district attorney died from cardiac arrest in his home. He was brought to the local hospital following the death. The medical professionals at the facility placed a call to what they thought was the next-of-kin to the deceased man to ask if the family would like to donate Mr. Barlow’s organs.

However, instead of calling the family of Shawn Barlow, the California Donor Network actually placed a middle-of-the-night call to Autumn Barlow Garcia, the sister of another man, 41 year old Shuan Barlow. The hospital had given the network the information to ask Autumn for permission to take her brother’s organs. Of course, in reality Autumn brother was alive, but she was not aware of any mistake. In fact, Autum’s own father had died of cardiac arrest at age 36 and her grandfather of the same problem at age 38, so they assumed that it was possible that their own brother had suffered a similar fate. It wasn’t until the family frantically called Shuan’s house and got him to pick up in the early morning that they realized that he was alive.

Apparently the mistake was made sometime in 2005, when the hospital switched to a different computer system. Beyond that, officials do not know what specifically happened which led to the error
As this example indicates, hospitals are in the unique position to inflict severe trauma on many lives when they make mistakes. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience fighting for the families who have suffered at the hands of all types of medical errors. It is vital that these medical facilities are held responsible for all of their conduct, from the critical medical care to the organization of their record keeping.