A man was wrongly told by a nurse that his father had died and was then taken to view another man’s body after a medical mix up.
The error came to light in a serious incident summary report presented this month to a trust board meeting of West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust.
It said: “Giving bad news to the wrong family - in this serious incident the wrong relative was phoned and told his father had passed away when he hadn’t; he was then taken to view the body of this patient on arrival to the ward.”
Chief nurse Professor Tracey Carter said: “We have offered our sincere apologies to the two families involved with this incident.
“Our nurse made an extremely rare, human error, which had a tragic impact on the families of both patients.
“The staff member was extremely distressed that they made this error.
“We have reiterated to our staff about the importance of double-checking the name of a patient before calling relatives and at the point they arrive at the hospital.”
To prevent the mistake from being repeated, the report said that ward staff have been told to produce a ‘simple’ flow chart to assist in checking that they are calling the right family to share bad news and that on arrival to the hospital they confirm the details of the deceased prior to viewing the body.