** High Priority **
Date: 21 July 2008
Mortuary Investigation Statement
This statement is from Waikato District Health Board group manager clinical and support services Melinda Ch'ng in response to media enquiries today.
"As soon as Waikato District Health Board staff realised a funeral director had taken the wrong body from our Waikato Hospital mortuary earlier this month, we contacted both him and the families of the dead man and woman.
"We ensured both families received the correct ashes. We couriered the ashes of the wrongly cremated man to Invercargill.
"The incident resulted in us launching an internal investigation as part of our incident reporting system. We interviewed staff and the funeral director identifying why and how it happened and drafted an action plan following the analysis.
"It is clear the process fell down. We have investigated what happened in more detail and have already noted some necessary improvements including making sure all funeral directors are fully aware of Waikato DHB's discharge and identification procedure from the mortuary.
"We pride ourselves on caring for patients and their families. This caring does not and should never stop at the time someone dies at our hospital. The focus of our investigation was to find out exactly what happened and ways to ensure this does not happen again.
"We ascertained that our staff did not identify the tag on the body when the funeral director came in.
"We also found the funeral director did not check the identification but did sign a mortuary registration card saying he had."