A New York City woman has sued a local hospital, after grieving for nine days at the bedside of a brain-damaged man who doctors insisted was her brother but who was actually a stranger with the same name.
Shirell Powell, 48, of Kings County, said she gave consent to have her supposed brother off life support after hospital staff insisted that the man was her brother.
Powell only discovered the man’s true identity when officials performed an autopsy and realized her real sibling was actually alive and in jail.
The lawsuit claimed the overdose patient Freddy Clarence Williams, 40was admitted under the wrong patient profile, leaving Powell with the impression her brother was on the verge of death. “Frederick Williams and Freddy Clarence Williams are different people,” it said.
The woman's brother is also 40 years old but has no middle name.
Powell authorized doctors to withdraw life support on July 29. The city’s medical examiner discovered the erroneous identification Aug. 16.
“I nearly fainted because I killed somebody that I didn’t even know. I gave consent,” said Powell.
“I barely sleep thinking about this all the time,’’ she added.
“To actually stand over him and watch this man take his last breath—sometimes I can’t even talk about it because I get upset and start crying. On the one hand, I’m thankful that it wasn’t [my brother]. On the other hand, I killed somebody that was a dad or a brother.”
Powell is reportedly seeking unspecified damages for the alleged mix-up. Meanwhile, hospital spokesperson Steven Clark told the Post that the lawsuit is without “any merit.”
Powell said that she has since gone to see her brother at a court appearance and phoned him in jail.
When she explained that she had unknowingly given the approval to turn off his life support, “He was saying, ‘You were going to kill me?”‘ Powell recalled. “I explained to him, once you’re brain-dead, there is nothing to do.”
Powell's brother said he wasn’t mad at his sister. But he was upset at the hospital.
“How could the hospital do something like that? Look what they put my family through,” he said.