Hollywood screenwriters can come up with some gruesome concepts for movie scripts. One common theme is having a victim try to escape from a grave after being buried alive. But when something similar happens in real life, is it grounds for a medical malpractice claim? According to one California court, in a specific case the answer is yes.
The tragic details of the case involve an 80-year-old woman who has over 50 grandchildren. According to court papers, she was taken to a hospital after being found unconscious at her home. Doctors determined that she had suffered a heart attack and she was declared dead. She was placed in a body bag and then put into a freezer in the morgue.
When the woman’s body was taken to a funeral home, family members, none of whom were with her at the time of her death, were advised by morticians that there were injuries to the woman’s face that could not be covered. When the family arrived at the funeral home to examine her body, they found that she had injuries to her face including bruises and lacerations and a broken nose. Workers at the mortuary said that the woman’s body bag was unzipped halfway and she was face-down in the morgue drawer when they arrived to transport the body.
The family hired a medical expert for an opinion about the injuries. The expert said that the woman was still alive when she was put into the morgue drawer in the body bag and that the wounds to her face indicate that her heart was still beating when they occurred. The conclusion was that the woman was alive when placed in the morgue and that she tried to fight her way out before being frozen alive.
While most medical malpractice cases do not have the macabre circumstances of this one, the pain and suffering caused to a patient and loved ones can occur regardless of extreme factors. A failure to diagnose or properly treat any patient can lead to severe consequences that can affect the patient and his or her family financially and emotionally. Anyone who has been affected by an instance of medical malpractice should consult an attorney experienced in these cases to determine whether any compensation for pain and suffering or medical expenses is due.
Source: NBCLA.com, “Grandmother Died Trying to Escape Morgue Freezer: Lawsuit,” Andrew Lopez, Hetty Chang, Jason Kandel and Jonathan Lloyd, April 4, 2014