An Independence, Missouri family is suing Truman Medical Center for allegedly performing medical procedures on a stillborn fetus without consent.
In a lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, Josh and Janet Brackenbury claim that they didn't authorize Truman Medical Center's pathology department to perform the procedures on their fetus following a miscarriage.
Sometime around March 17, an ultrasound could not find a heartbeat, confirming their 14-week pregnancy miscarried. Janet Brackenbury went to Truman Medical Center's Lakewood campus five days later where doctors induced labor.
Two days before the procedure, according to the petition for damages court document, Brackenbury "expressed her wishes to [Truman Medical Center] to have genetic testing on the child." That same day she also instructed the Medical Center to deliver the remains to an Independence funeral home.
The lawsuit claims that on the day of the delivery, Brackenbury authorized Children's Mercy Hospital to perform the genetic testing and again requested the remains be delivered to the funeral home.
In a press release by Brackenbury's lawyer, Josh Brackenbury says:
"I just do not want this to happen to anyone else. The loss of a child is tragic enough so having our child kept from us for several days even though we begged them to get our baby to the funeral home has utterly devastated me and my wife. Our child should never have been sent to pathology."
Brackenbury's lawyer Kirby Minor declined a request for an interview.
In response to a request for comment, Truman Medical Center provided a statement to 41 Action News the reads in part, "Janet Brackenbury alleges that the staff at Truman Medical Centers did not properly inform her of the process that occurs after a patient requests genetic testing of fetal remains. Truman Medical Centers is confident that it followed proper protocol in this situation and the remains were released to a funeral home within five days."
The full statement from Truman Medical Center Statement reads:
Truman Medical Centers strives to treat each and every patient with skilled, compassionate care. We know that it can be heart-wrenching for families when a pregnancy does not result in the birth of a healthy infant.
It has come to our attention that a patient who suffered a miscarriage at 14-weeks has filed a lawsuit against TMC.
Janet Brackenbury alleges that the staff at Truman Medical Centers did not properly inform her of the process that occurs after a patient requests genetic testing of fetal remains. Truman Medical Centers is confident that it followed proper protocol in this situation and the remains were released to a funeral home within five days.
We think it is important to point out that while federal HIPAA laws do not permit us comment on patients or details surrounding care, the fact that the family filed suit makes the above information public.
The Brackenburys are seeking at least $25,000 in damages.