New York hospital let woman end life support for stranger, lawsuit claims

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A woman has sued St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City, claiming she gave permission to withdraw life support for a stranger the hospital mistakenly identified as her brother, according to The Washington Post.

Six things to know:

1. In July, a St. Barnabas Hospital employee called Shirell Powell to tell her that her brother had been admitted to the hospital and was near death. She went to visit the man she believed was her brother, Frederick Williams, who was unconscious from an apparent drug overdose and had suffered brain damage.

2. When it became clear a few weeks later that he wasn't going to recover, Ms. Powell gave the hospital permission to withdraw life support, according to the lawsuit.

3. Ms. Powell is suing the hospital for unspecified damages after discovering her brother is still alive and that she gave the hospital permission to end life support for a stranger, according to The Washington Post.

4. Ms. Powell's real brother is in jail. He was arrested in July and has been jailed on Rikers Island in New York City. Ms. Powell and her family were unaware of the arrest.

5. The hospital allegedly mixed up two men with similar names. The error was discovered when the medical examiner performed an autopsy. Ms. Powell told the New York Post that the man she visited in the hospital looked like her brother. She thought the brain damage had caused his face to swell.

6. Regarding the lawsuit, a hospital spokesperson told the New York Post, "We don't feel there is any merit to this claim."

Access the full New York Post article here.

Access the full Washington Post article here.

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