Faro Hospital (Photo: Sara Alves)

UPDATE: Algarve morgue mix-up “absolutely regrettable”, says health minister

The Algarve’s public hospital bosses have offered to resign from their posts after two bodies were misidentified at Faro Hospital’s morgue, which led to the wrong body being cremated.

In a statement to the press, the administration board of the Algarve University Hospital Centre (CHUA) says the “serious error” took place on November 3.

National press reports that the bodies that were wrongly identified belonged to a French woman and an Englishman, the latter described as “homeless” in i newspaper.

The monumental mix-up was reportedly detected when the French woman’s family visited Faro Hospital to collect the body and take it back to France, only to find that the body that was there belonged to someone else.

According to CHUA’s account of the events, it contacted the affected families after learning of the situation and expressed its “deepest apologies” and offered all the “support” necessary.

“We are sorry about this serious incident and present our deepest apologies and condolences to the families. We accompany them in this moment of pain,” the board adds.

The administration board says that “several safety norms” are followed when confirming the identity of deceased patients. It adds, however, that an inquiry is underway to establish how such a mistake could be made and what changes need to be made to prevent it from happening again.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that it has launched its own investigation into this case.

“The Public Prosecutor’s Office, having received documents relating to this matter from CHUA, decided to open an inquiry,” a source told Lusa news agency.

Portugal’s Health Regulator Entity (ERS) has also launched its own inquiry.

“Absolutely regrettable”

Health Minister Manuel Pizarro has described the body mix-up incident at Faro Hospital as “absolutely regrettable”.

He also said that he will await the results of the inquiry launched before making a decision on the future of the CHUA administration board.

“There is an internal inquiry underway at the hospital, while ERS and the Public Prosecutor’s office have announced their own inquiries,” the minister said during an audience in Parliament regarding the 2023 State Budget.

“It makes sense to wait until responsibilities are established before making decisions,” he added.

“We will take measures to help the families deal with this process,” the minister added.

By Michael Bruxo
michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com