Wrong Body? Wrong Brain?

During the Introduction to Mortuary Science Course delegates are taught about the Human Tissue Act (HTA) and reminded why it is in place.

The HTA serves to ensure that the integrity of our mortuaries and those wonderful staff who work in them at all levels are protected but so are the deceased.

There have been lots of reasons why things have gone wrong, some through flawed thinking but the majority through human error that has occurred but is not realised because “times change”.

What was once acceptable, or deemed acceptable, in the past is now seen as wrong and we have many apologies from organisations for past mistakes. The idea is we learn from these mistakes so they never happen again.

Some reportable incidents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2014 are:

Reportable incidents between 2014 and 2016*

  • An undertaker discovered a brain in the abdominal cavity of a body which did not belong to it (Warwick Hospital)
  • Human error resulted in a mix-up of brains (John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford)
  • Memory stick containing unencrypted images from two post-mortem examinations was left on public transport (Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
  • A large corpse could not be removed from a mortuary freezer because of the way it had frozen (King’s College Hospital, London)
  • Wrong body released and cremated (Southport & Formby District General Hospital)

Remember we are a society that learns from our mistakes, that means we MUST MAKE SOME MISTAKES FIRST, Lets not be too hard on each other, rather lets fix the systems that are broken…


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