Hospital Misidentification

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

A stateline family is still searching for answers after a hospital mix-up. It happened Friday night and for 25 devestating minutes a Rockford man was dead, at least that's what his family and friends believed.
When Jason Williams' father answered his phone Friday night what he heard made his world go up in flames.
"Freeport Memorial Hospital had called and told him that he needed to come down to the emergency room that they had me there and he kept insisting why, why and they finally said well your son is dead," says Jason Williams.
Of course Williams, at work in downtown Rockford's Octane InterLounge, is alive and perfecty well physically, though mentally he's shaken.
"If somebody told me my kid was dead I might not make it to the hospital. Anything could have happened. My father could have had a heart attack," says Williams.
When Williams' father got to FHN Memorial Hospital, he learned the Stephenson County coroner had misidentified a deceased Freeport man, James Williams, as his son. The man had no I.D. on him and neighbors told emergency workers his name was Jason Williams. Since his father lives in Freeport, Jason was on a hospital record in the city and the coroner and the hospital believed they had found a match.
"I can't imagine a more horrifying experience than getting a telephone like that. And again we at FHN are very apologetic and I would have no problem meeting him face to face to give a personal apology," says Dr. Michael Perry, CEO of FHN Memorial.
Williams already spoke with a hospital representative but he says she didn't offer a truly sincere apology and he says that's all he wants.
"Everybody's like oh you can sue them. That's not what it's about. It's about the fact that as much as I care about my father the last thing in the world I want to see is him upset and I can't imagine anything that would upset him more," says Williams.
Williams says his phone has been ringing off the hook with worried friends and family. The coroner says the actual deceased, James Williams, died of natural causes and his family has now been contacted.
Dr. Perry says it's hospital policy to call the deceased's family as soon as possible, though they try not to break the news over the phone. He adds the hospital will now re-examine every step of the identification process, from emergency responders, to the coroner, to hospital policies.
As far as Dr. Perry knows, this is the first case of misidentification at FHN Memorial.


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