16 Jan 2012

American Samoan hospital holds bodies until bills paid

1:53 pm on 16 January 2012

Hospital officials in American Samoa have been urged to reconsider their policy of not releasing bodies from the morgue unless hospital bills for the deceased are paid.

It has been revealed that a body has been in the morgue at LBJ Hospital in Pago Pago, since October 2010 because of an unpaid bill.

The LBJ hospital's Chief Financial Officer Viola Babcock told a House of Representatives hearing that the hospital will withhold the body of a person with an unpaid hospital bill until arrangements are made to clear their bill.

She says LBJ is negotiating with family members to reach a resolution and have the body released but no one came forward until December last year.

Lemapu Suiaunoa Talo, the lawmaker who raised the case, asked the chairperson of the hospital board to reconsider the policy on Christian principles.