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Religion Mistake Blamed for Patient’s Death

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - A Tennessee man diagnosed with kidney failure died after hospital staff denied him medical treatment because they incorrectly thought he was a Jehovah's Witness, his widow claims in court.

Roberta Piper says her deceased husband Merle was diagnosed with stage four kidney failure last year after getting a urine analysis at Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Tenn.

Ten days later, he was denied potentially life-saving treatment because his medical chart incorrectly stated that he was a Jehovah's Witness "and attending medical personnel believed that particular religious belief prohibited such treatment," according to a lawsuit Piper filed last month.

She sued the hospital, Merhaf Zeino MD, Ayca Kabasakal MD and John Doe individuals and corporations in Cumberland County, Tenn.

"On the afternoon of October 28, 2014, Dr. Kabasakal told plaintiff that it was a shame they couldn't treat her husband due to his religious beliefs," the complaint states. "Plaintiff corrected Dr. Kabasakal stating that he was not a Jehovah's Witness and gave permission for medical personnel to put in a port to treat him. As a result of the negligence of the defendants, Merle Piper died shortly thereafter that same night."

The Oct. 13 lawsuit alleges wrongful death and medical malpractice.

Piper seeks an unspecified amount of damages. She is represented by Ronald Aronds in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Cumberland Medical Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment emailed Thursday.

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