Two Chicago families have had their world shattered due to a hospital identity mix-up.
The relatives of Alfonso Bennett and Elisha Brittman have taken out a wrongful death lawsuit against Chicago city and Mercy Hospital.
On May 13, Rosie Brooks received a phone call from Mercy Hospital in Chicago.
She was told the heartbreaking news that her brother, Alfonso Bennett, was in intensive care.
The hospital told Rosie her brother had been found naked on the streets on city’s South Side.
Mercy Hospital also told the devastated sister that he was badly beaten and disfigured.
He did not have any identification.
Brooks and her sister, Brenda Bennett-Johnson rushed to the hospital.
“They had him on the ventilator, and they had a tube in his mouth,” Brooks told WBBM-TV.
But even though Chicago Police told the hospital the man on life support was Alfonso Bennett, the sisters were unsure.
“They kept saying CPD identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson said.
Police identified the man as Alfonso Bennett by using prior mugshots from his extensive criminal history.
They did not use fingerprint to definitively ID him because of budget cuts.
“You don’t identify a person through a mugshot versus fingerprints,” Bennett-Johnson said.
“Fingerprints carries everything.”
After being told their “brother’s” condition was deteriorating, the sisters agreed to allow the hospital to take him off life support.
“Within minutes he was ice cold,” Bennett-Johnson said.
As the sisters made funeral arrangements, to bury what they thought was their brother, they received a phone call from one of their sisters.
Alfonso Bennett was alive and well. He had just paid one of his sisters a visit.
“He called my sister Yolanda to say, ‘It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!” said Brooks.
“Brenda! Brenda! It’s Alfonso! It’s Alfonso!’ I said, ‘You’re kidding!”
“I could have almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson said.
The man who had passed away was later correctly identified as Elisha Brittman, 69.
Both families are accusing the hospital and city of negligence and inflicting emotional stress. The say the mix-up could have been avoided if Mr Brittman had been properly fingerprinted.
They are seeking $50,000 from each hospital.
Meanwhile Mercy Hospital said in their defense: “The family did identify this patient as their brother.”