Coroner system need regulation; standard qualifications nationwide


Bilateral kidney stones on abdominal X-ray. No...

Bilateral kidney stones on abdominal X-ray. Not to be confused with phleboliths seen in the pelvis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Linda Carswell has a long history documenting how victim rights and family concerns for their deceased loved one is ignored in favor of medical institutions, coroners and human body parts criminals.

In their investigative journalism, ProPublica reports the following:

“The ongoing saga turned Carswell into an advocate for improved autopsy laws and other patient rights.

The family’s experience showed how problems with clinical autopsies— and rarely include toxicology tests — can thwart survivors’ ability to determine what happened to their loved ones.

After more than eight years, Linda Carswell finally has proof: According to photographs submitted as evidence at a recent court hearing, her husband’s heart sits in a locker in the morgue of St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston, stored in two plastic tubs.

But the hospital still won’t return it so that Carswell can bury it with his body.”

Linda Carswell’s husband, Jerry Carswell was 61 years old when he was admitted to a Christus St. Catherine Hospital in Houston, Texas for kidney stones.  There Carswell was reportedly administered pain medication for his ailment and then prepared for discharge.  Soon after receiving the medication, her husband was discovered dead, still lying in his bed.

His body was removed to another Houston area medical facility for an autopsy, St. Joseph Medical Center.  However, the autopsy did not determine a cause of death. During the autopsy, his heart was removed for examination – but not returned to his widow with his body.

The widow, Linda Carswell has sued Christus St. Catherine Hospital for improperly handling the autopsy of her husband and received a settlement of $2 million dollars for fraud.  The hospital is planning to appeal the verdict.

“An opinion issued in June by the Texas Supreme Court says a deceased person’s next of kin is entitled to possess his body and bury it. That’s standard practice nationwide, said Dr. Victor Weedn, a lawyer and pathologist who is professor and chair of the George Washington University department of forensic sciences.

Weedn said he doesn’t see why the hospital couldn’t give Jerry Carswell’s heart back and warned that it could be incurring liability by keeping it.”

The ordeal has created an advocate for improved autopsy laws and patients rights, according to the ProPublica story.

“They don’t understand the human meaning of this at all.” Linda Carswell told ProPublica.

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