Senator Van Pelt Inspired by the story of Elisha Brittman, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is sponsoring the Unidentified Patient Act, also known as The Elisha Brittman Law. Brittman – the victim of a brutal beating – was taken off life support earlier this year. Even more tragic: the family that made the decision wasn’t even his, because the hospital misidentified Mr. Brittman.

Brittman had been beaten so badly that the hospital was unable to identify him properly using photographs. It did not use fingerprints or DNA, which would have ensured a correct identification. Both Brittman’s mistaken family as well as his real one are filing a lawsuit.

“No family should have to go through this kind of trauma,” Van Pelt said. “One family was looking for their loved one, while the other was taxed with the decision to end his suffering. This entire situation was entirely avoidable.”

The measure would require hospitals to take specified efforts to identify any unknown patients in their care. Such efforts may include filing a missing person report for the unidentified patient, fingerprinting, or even sending identifying materials to the local media. If the hospital receives a claim from a possible family member, a voluntary DNA test will be conducted.

“The fact that they tried to identify Elisha through a mugshot is unbelievable,” Van Pelt said. “When a hospital encounters someone that is unidentifiable, the first step should be fingerprints.”

The General Assembly will consider the Unidentified Patient Act, SB 2309, when it returns to the Capitol in January.

Category: Press Releases

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