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Examiner's office takes wrong body

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January 11, 2008

State officials have vowed to be more careful handling bodies after a technician from the state medical examiner's office took the wrong one from a Brockton hospital last month.

Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Executive Office of Public Safety, said the mix-up occurred on Dec. 14 at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center, when a technician was called to pick up the body of an elderly woman. Two bodies of elderly women at the hospital had similar first and last names, Harris said.

When the body arrived at the medical examiner's office in South Boston, technicians realized it was the wrong body, notified the hospital, immediately returned the body, and retrieved the correct remains, Harris said.

The procedure for transporting bodies calls for both the medical examiner's technician and the hospital staff to make the proper identification of the body before it is removed, he said.

"There was a failure on our technician's part, and a failure on the hospital staff's part," Harris said.

Last year, the state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark A. Flomenbaum, was fired after the office misplaced a body.

JILLIAN JORGENSEN

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