A California woman was recently admitted to a hospital with a urinary infection, a common and simple enough problem to treat. She was found dead nineteen days later in a locked stairwell, in what many are calling a glaring case of hospital negligence. It is a strange and complicated tale, however, with the Medical Examiner offering a much different cause for the woman’s demise.
The woman was admitted to a hospital on Sept. 19. Two days later, she disappeared. According to those in the hospital who had seen her that day, she had been confused, forgetting why she was in the hospital to begin with.
A perimeter search for the missing woman was conducted the day she went missing, but a thorough search was not done until Sept. 30, nine days later. A few more locations were searched on Oct. 1. A tip on Oct. 4 led the hospital to finish looking in every last location inside the hospital, two-and-one-half-weeks after the woman disappeared.
That was when the woman was finally found. Incredibly, she was still within the walls of the hospital itself, inside a stairwell that was not used regularly and so had not been searched previously. She was found dressed in street clothes, as if she was ready to leave the hospital and return home.
The Medical Examiner, who examined the woman after she’d been discovered, noted in her report that the deceased had a noticeable weight loss for at least two weeks prior to her death, and a shift in her mental state as well. She reportedly noted that the deceased’s liver indicated alcohol disease. She listed the cause of death as accidental.
The family’s spokesman maintains that the deceased did not have an alcohol problem. Moreover, he claims that if the deceased died after she disappeared from her room in the hospital, it is a case of hospital negligence. If the hospital is in fact proven to be negligent in their treatment of the deceased, her surviving family members may have the right under California law to seek compensation for medical bills and loss of companionship.
Source: The Huffington Post, Lynne Spalding Cause Of Death: Coroner Ties Hospital Stairway Death To Alcoholism, Channing Joseph and Terry Collins, Dec. 13, 2013