Mother kept in dark about son's death for more than a month

Due to human error and incomplete information, a mother only learned about the death of her adult son in hospital 47 days after the event, reported LTV's "Studio 4" news show on February 4.

Ingrīdas Rītiņa's 42-year-old son, Ervīns Stanke, arrived at the Pauls Stradiņš hospital on 20 April, 2018. He was diagnosed with a serious case of pneumonia and eventually lost consciousness.

"The nurses said he had been conscious for a very short time. But he was not a homeless person or a man with an unknown surname and had his identity documents on him,” Rītiņa told the show.

According to his mother. he had been experiencing some problems in his private life and she initially thought his lack of contact was a sign of him taking time out to sort things out. There was no clue that he had been admitted to hospital and was fighting for his life.

Stanke died on May 3, but the information was not communicated to relatives. By May 24th, the family had become concerned enough to file a missing persons report with police. Police said they had no record of anyone by his name among the recently-deceased or those admitted to hospital.

His mother waited for the son to call, but the call that came was on June 19, that is, 47 days after Ervīns' death. His body had been in the morgue as long as was permitted and cremation had to be carried out, and information from the funeral director carrying it out had finally allowed police to ascertain that a mistake had been made. His mother finally received a message - her son had died 47 days ago.

Inguna Rušeniece, a lawyer at the hospital said that according to the law “When entering a hospital, the patient indicates the persons to be contacted during the treatment process... If the patient does not have such a wish, the hospital is not obliged to look for relatives.”

"In this case, he did not show any desire, so the doctor has no obligation to look for the mother of an adult and say that he is in a medical facility,” said the lawyer.

However, when a person dies in a hospital, his or her relatives should be informed as soon as possible by the treating physician or on-call doctor. But this was not the case.

“In this case, the human factor has worked here. The last information the patient gave was that he had no contact with his relatives and he was living in a shelter,” explained the lawyer.

"I don't know if the police really called the hospital or not - if they had done so they would certainly have got the information from the doctors' office, definitely such information would have been provided to the police," she said.

In the end the mother was able to attend her son's cremation, albeit just one day after learning of his death. It took place at Jaunciemi cemetery, alongside many others who are officially listed as missing or without relatives. 

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