When mistakes are made by hospitals, people die

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Officials and staff at San Francisco General Hospital are at a loss to explain how a patient who was missing for two weeks turned up dead in a stairwell. Lynne Spalding, 57, checked into the hospital due to a bladder infection. That was on Sept. 19, 2013. Two days later, she was missing.

Friends, family and hospital staff searched frantically for her. Family handed out fliers and searched the city. The police were called in and searched the hospital, to no avail. Spalding had been given powerful medications, which may or may not have caused her to wander from her room.

The hospital staff rarely used the stairwell where she was found; the doors lock from the inside, and the only other way out was down to the outside grounds. It also has alarms that alert staff to the doors being opened. A maintenance worker discovered the body when he was making a routine quarterly check. It is currently unknown if the alarms had been set off or were faulty. Both police and hospital officials are investigating to find out what happened to Lynne Spalding. Police officers and hospital staff initially searched the hospital and did not find her.

Losing a loved one due to medical malpractice destroys trust in doctors and in hospitals. When mistakes result in the injury or death of a patient, someone has to be accountable. A licensed attorney with experience in medical and hospital malpractice can advise loved ones on how to proceed. He or she may assist with additional medical or funeral expenses and the process of litigation. If criminal action is warranted, the attorney could help the victim or survivors through the often complicated process.

Source: CNN, “Body found in hospital stairwell is missing patient, examiner says“, Lateef Mungin and Dan Simon, October 10, 2013

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