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Winnipeg Hospital Tells Wrong Son That His Mother Died

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WINNIPEG — People don't usually die from a sprained ankle, even when they're nearly 100 years old.

But that's what happened to Dan Nemis's mother — if only for a few terrible, grief-stricken seconds.

Sophie Nemis was a patient at Winnipeg's Seven Oaks General Hospital for several weeks last month after suffering the injury.

Her son was at an appointment with his doctor when his cellphone rang. A nurse at the hospital was calling.

seven oaks general hospital
Sophie Nemis was a patient at Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg when a nurse accidentally called her son to say she had passed away. (Photo: Facebook/Seven Oaks General Hospital)

"She said it three times: 'Daniel, your mother has passed,''' he said Tuesday. "After the third time she says, 'Whoops, wrong person.'''

Nemis said by then he had already fallen to the floor, overcome with grief.

"Whoops, wrong person."

He said he'll never forget how devastated he was when he received the call.

"Now when I get the phone call in future, my five siblings will cry, but I won't,'' he said. "My mother has already died.''

Hospital has apologized multiple times

A Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokeswoman said the hospital's patient-relations consultant, patient-care team manager and chief nursing officer have all called Nemis and his mother to apologize for the mistake.

"The (deceased) patient passed away overnight and the nurse coming on shift was responsible to call the next of kin,'' the spokeswoman said.

"The nurse looked at the wrong page in the chart binder, realized part-way into the call that she had the wrong name and apologized profusely.''

"The mistake was extremely unfortunate and regrettable."

The spokeswoman said the hospital has reviewed patient-identifier policies with staff to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"The mistake was extremely unfortunate and regrettable, and we are deeply sorry for any grief that may have been caused, even momentarily.''

Sophie Nemis, who will be 100 on Dec. 3, wasn't impressed when she heard the story.

"I thought it was terrible announcing my death,'' she said from her seniors residence Tuesday. "They'd already done nothing for me for three weeks.''

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