Woman Sues Hospital

PUBLISHED: 7:29 PM 3 Feb 2019

Woman Pulled Life Support, But Patient ‘Mis-Identification’ Leads To Lawsuit

Although the man was misidentified, it wasn’t discovered until after he’s been taken off life support.

After agreeing to remove life support, a woman found out that she killed the wrong man.

Shirell Powell stood vigil over her brother’s bedside in a New York hospital for nearly two weeks. She had been by the hospital told there was nothing that could be done to save his life.

Doctors said he was brain dead, so she gave her permission to remove life support, only to find out after he died, the man wasn’t her brother at all. Now she’s suing the hospital.

In late July 2018, Freddy Clarence Williams died, not Frederick Williams, Powell’s brother. The hospital had made a terrible ‘mistake’ when they identified the man who was admitted for a narcotics overdose.

“Powell is suing St. Barnabas Hospital for negligence and is seeking monetary relief.”

She claims she “suffered severe emotional harm and injuries” because of the mistake, according to court documents.

Steven Clark, a spokesman for the Bronx, New York facility doesn’t “believe the claim has any merit.”

In mid-July 2018, an unconscious man named Freddy Clarence Williams was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital and identified by the Social Security card he was carrying, Powell’s lawsuit says.

Powell’s brother, Frederick Williams, had previously been a patient at the hospital, and Powell was among those listed in his patient profile as an emergency contact.

“Powell says in her lawsuit that she was contacted by the hospital and told by a doctor that ‘he did not think that Frederick Williams would ‘”make it”’ and that he would be transferred to the hospital’s hospice inpatient unit.

“A couple of weeks later, Powell made the decision to take her brother off life support and began making preparations for his burial. When an autopsy was conducted, a staff member at the New York Medical Examiner’s Office made it apparent to Powell that the man she grieved over was not her brother, but a man who shared a common name and a similar appearance.

“Powell’s attorney, Alexander Dudelson, said the man she believed to be her brother was swollen and was wrapped in a neck brace and tubes at the hospital, altering his appearance. Both Powell and several members of her family believed the man was their relative, he said.”

“I’ve seen pictures of the gentleman in the bed. He had a neck brace and tubes. Everything was very similar. When a hospital tells you this is your brother and there’s a resemblance, you’re inclined to believe it.”

Dudelson said the real fault is that the hospital neglected to check details that would have proved the two men were different people.

“The dates of birth were off and the Social Security was off. The names were different,” Dudelson said.

“Powell’s brother, Frederick Williams, is alive and is being held at a correctional facility on Rikers Island, according to court records, which show he was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and is awaiting a court date.”

The hospital has threatened Powell and her attorney, and claimed that since Powell is not related to the dead man, they can’t provide any details. Of course, when they were trying to get her to pull the plug, they gave her the authority.

“Further, the facts you allege in your letter, even if they were accurate, would not constitute a cognizable cause of action. Please understand, if you commence a suit, we will seek all available relief against you and your client for frivolous litigation,” the hospital wrote.