Summit Medical Center clarifies how fetal tissue is handled |

Summit Medical Center clarifies how fetal tissue is handled

Amy Levy, RN, BSN, Summit Medical Center surgery center supervisor

I feel a responsibility to this community to respond to the letter to the editor, name withheld, on Feb. 10. He and his wife suffered a miscarriage and came to the Summit Medical Center Emergency Department and then to the Surgical Center. While it is true that Centura has a policy on the disposition of fetal tissue, there are choices for the patient and/or family to make.

The form this couple was asked to sign has two parts. Part A is for permission for the hospital to take care of the tissue and Part B is for private arrangements and patient/family permission for release of tissue to a mortuary for disposition, as arranged by the patient/family.

I am very sorry that this couple’s perception was that they had no choice for the disposition of fetal tissue because other options are available.

Centura’s intent for option A is to assist families who cannot afford to or do not wish to make private arrangements. This is a public service at no charge to the patient/family. Services at Mount Olivet in Denver are performed once a month, and any fetal tissues collected from around the city are laid to rest in a very sensitive manner in keeping with Centura’s mission of showing respect for all life.

For many families, this service provides closure when a pregnancy is lost. Option B is for private arrangements made by the patient/family.

As far as requiring the patient/family to sign the form in question before the surgical procedure, it is important that the staff assist the patient/family in making this decision so tissue is handled appropriately immediately after the procedure.

Medications and anesthesia alter mental status, and it is not appropriate or legal to seek permission from patients after they have been medicated.

Unfortunately, emergency situations often demand quick action, and paperwork may be rushed to expedite treatment. It is not the intent for this step in the procedure to be viewed as coercive or perceived as a violation of personal choices. An internal review of this process has been initiated to better serve the needs of patients and families.

I certainly do not want members of this community bypassing Summit Medical Center because they believe it will not honor their personal choices. This is just not the case.

Summit County does need and deserve a hospital. These debates are healthy for this community as they inspire improvement of services based on community input and aid efforts to dispel misconceptions of having a faith-based hospital. I encourage the community to attend the Summit Medical Center open house at 6 p.m. Feb. 20.

Staff members and leaders in Centura will be present to answer questions and consider comments and suggestions.

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