Cincinnati hospital loses newborn's remains; trash searched

CINCINNATI (AP) — The remains of a newborn infant were lost at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, leading to an unsuccessful search at a landfill and an apology from the hospital, officials said.

The leader of the UC Health system offered the apology but no details in a statement that calls what happened an "unacceptable situation."

"I promise the family that we will never let a situation like this happen again," CEO Richard Lofgren said. "I and the entire executive team of UC Health are examining every fact, every process, and every action to identify precisely how this could possibly happen. We have already begun to put in place steps to ensure that this kind of tragic human error cannot occur again."

A baby girl who was delivered prematurely on Sept. 14 was stillborn, and her twin brother lived for only an hour, WKRC-TV reported. Police said it's not clear exactly what happened to the boy's body, but it didn't make it to the hospital morgue and couldn't be found later, the station said.

Police told WKRC that when the family was making arrangements for handling the children's remains, the hospital located the body of one child but not the other.

The boy's remains also weren't found when a landfill was searched last weekend. A contractor hired by the hospital searched areas of the landfill where the hospital's waste was dumped, as well as trash from a laundry contractor, WKRC-TV reported.

It wasn't clear why the search occurred nearly two weeks after the infants' delivery or whether efforts to find the remains have ended. A hospital spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a message seeking more information Tuesday.

UC Health called police for assistance last Wednesday, and investigators who talked with those involved concluded it was a civil matter between the family and the hospital, Cincinnati police spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardy said Tuesday.

"While this is a horrific thing that happened to this family and we feel for this family, our investigators concluded there was not technically a crime committed that we would investigate," Hardy said.

She said police weren't involved with the landfill search.