Family members upset about how Erlanger informed them of woman’s death

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — A family says they are upset about how Erlanger informed them about their loved one’s death.

Della and Tasha Ratcliff remember their mother, Deborah Watson, as someone who loved her grandchildren.

“She never cared what anyone thought about her so she would be the biggest fun. Just do pranks and jokes, didn’t matter, played hide-and-go-seek with the kids,” said Della Ratcliff.

Earlier this month, Watson was killed in a car crash on Lee Highway. Her daughters say at first they didn’t realize the severity of it.

“She was in a minor accident, maybe broke a leg, broke an arm, maybe whiplash or something. And we never knew anything else,” Della Ratcliff said.

When Tasha and her daughter got to the hospital they were eventually told they could see Watson.

“I was like thank God, that is a relief. They are not going to let you go back if someone is not okay,” Tasha Ratcliff said.

She says she will never forget what she saw next.

“I slide that curtain open. They are not alive. Just a bunch of sheets or something over them. And I didn’t know if this was my mom. I was like, ‘What are we doing? Who is this?'” Tasha Ratcliff recalled.

“My niece she has the sweetest soul. All she has is nightmares now of seeing my mom, her grandmother laying there with a sheet over her,” Della Ratcliff said.

The sisters say they waited awhile until they were told their mother died on impact. On Friday they had a meeting with hospital staff, who apologized to them.

“They made mistakes, they’ve never had this mistake happen. They even said the word he was appalled by the actions of their staff, but now because of this they are putting things in place,” Della Ratcliff said.

The family hopes changes are made.

“Nobody should have to go through this,” Tasha Ratcliff said.

Erlanger issued the following statement:

“Due to patient privacy laws, Erlanger officials are unable to discuss specifics surrounding this incident. Whenever an unexpected incident occurs, Erlanger conducts a full investigation to determine the cause and implements corrective action when necessary to help prevent a future occurrence.”  

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