OKC Family Waits Two Months For Death Certificate

Monday, October 10th 2011, 2:34 pm
By: News 9

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – A grieving family is forced to wait months for closure. Their loved one died at Midwest Regional Hospital. But the attending doctor refused to sign the death certificate.

The man died here on August 10. The funeral home owner got the death certificate in the mail last Friday.

The family says that's two months too long.

The memory of Edward Barnhill's sudden death has been unnecessarily prolonged.

"Mom, she can't handle it. I'm still having a very hard time on it," said Cathy Campbell, Barnhill's daughter.

To make it worse, bill collectors are calling.

"'Is Mr. Barnhill there?' No I'm sorry he's passed. ‘Well we need a death certificate,'" Campbell said.

The funeral still hasn't been paid for. But the funeral home's director understands the situation.

"I think it's disgusting," Tom Brown said.

Barnhill died at Midwest Regional Medical Center. He was never seen by anyone but a nurse.

Campbell says she never saw a doctor while her dad was in the hospital dying.

When it came time for the death certificate, there was never a signature from hospital paper.

"After a month of calling and asking where the death certificate is they sent it back to us with a note that says we're not signing the death certificate. Dr. Mathew never saw the patient," Brown said.

Nearly two months to the date after Barnhill's death, the death certificate arrived.

"I look at the death certificate and it's signed on September 23. Somehow the doctor signed it approximately five days before we even mailed it to them," Brown said.

Something as small as a signature has become a devastating ordeal for Barnhill's family.

"None of them have lived up to the compassion that is advertised. There is no compassion. All they want is the greenback and that's it," Campbell said.

The funeral home owner says because there was not an attending physician or medical history, the hospital should have contacted the Medical Examiner's office. But he says that never happened.

The Midwest Regional Medical Center released the following statement Monday afternoon:

- Midwest Regional Medical Center takes great pride in the care we provide our patients and the important role their family members play in their care. In addition to our comments provided on Friday, we are sharing additional information because we want to make sure that this comes through in your story.

- Midwest Regional Medical Center takes this family's concerns seriously and we express heartfelt condolences to them. Our organization is deeply committed to honoring the privacy and confidentiality of our patients. Because of this, we are unable to talk about this in depth.

- Hospital administration first learned of this issue three weeks ago when we were contacted by the funeral home for a death certificate.

- Midwest moved as quickly as possible to fulfill the request. We conducted an internal review to ensure that this document was correctly processed and fulfilled.

- We produced this document approximately two weeks after receiving the request.

- Midwest Regional is confident that the patient received the highest quality care possible while at our hospital and was treated by a physician in our emergency room.

- We will continue – as always – to work with funeral homes in our area to compassionately meet families' needs in a timely manner. Again, we offer condolences to the family.