Wrong man’s life support switched off
A CHICAGO man's family made the heartbreaking decision to switch off his life support only to discover that their "relative" was in fact a total stranger.
In a horrifying mix-up, police misidentified a badly beaten and unconscious patient leaving a family to believe it was their relative they were taking off life support after doctors at Chicago's Mercy Hospital told them there was no hope for recovery, the New York Post reports.
Police identified the injured man through mug shots as Alfonso Bennett in late April, and in May, Mr Bennett's sisters were informed by police that he was the man who had been admitted to hospital.
Although Mr Bennett's sisters had doubts about his identity, they eventually agreed to take him off life support and move him to a hospice, where he died three days later.
His family realised the mistake when Mr Bennett turned up at a friend's barbecue just days after they had watch him die, his sisters said at a press conference.
"He walked in the door, and his sisters were stunned," said the family lawyer Cannon Lambert.
Bennett's relatives had already "commenced making funeral arrangements … which included purchasing a burial plot, casket and home-going clothes. They also commenced work on an obituary," court documents say.
To say that we currently have questions is an understatement. We have detectives looking into every aspect of this incident - from the incident response to the circumstances leading to the hospitalization and the notification of family members. Details to follow as we learn more. https://t.co/OUGp0CRPVI— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) June 13, 2019
The dead man was eventually identified through fingerprints as 69-year-old Elisha Brittman.
Brittman's family was heartbroken to learn that he had died without them at this side and has since joined the Bennett's in suing the hospital and city for more than $50,000 alleging negligence, wrongful death and emotional distress.
"The bottom line is this mistaken identity situation was something we think could have easily been avoided and should have been avoided," said Mr Lambert.
In a statement to the Chicago Tribune newspaper, the police department had said it had opened an investigation.
"To say we currently have questions is an understatement," it said.
"We have detectives looking into every aspect of this incident - from the incident responses to the circumstances leading to the hospitalisation and the notification of family members."
- with wires