Woman receives condolence letter from hospital announcing her own death

After returning home from a three-day stay at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va., 62-year-old Marilyn Mullins was shocked when she received a letter from the hospital's chaplain saying she was dead.

The card, addressed to Ms. Mullins' family, said, "In the weeks since Mrs. Mullins' death, we at Martha Jefferson have remembered her and your family," according to a WVIR news report.

Although Ms. Mullins initially joked about receiving the letter, she wanted to make sure the mistake was corrected, as she relies on Social Security and disability checks.

After reaching out to Martha Jefferson Hospital, a hospital chaplain called Ms. Mullins and apologized. The hospital told WVIR that the list of families who receive notes of condolence is generated by a button in the hospital's EMR. In Ms. Mullins' case, the unit secretary accidentally clicked the box for deceased patient instead of the one for discharge to home.

Although the hospital discovered the mistake and corrected it, the chaplains who send the cards were not informed of the mistake. The hospital told WVIR that the error never made it to any outside database.

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