A missing patient was found dead in hospital stairwell more than two weeks after she went missing. 57-year-old Lynne Spalding went missing from her hospital room and her body was found after it lay in a hospital stairwell for over two weeks, according to NBC News on Oct. 10. How could this happen?
It seems as if the stairwell where Spalding’s body was discovered is one that is seldom used. It’s described as a “remote fourth floor stairway.” It is cut off to hospital visitors and staff rarely have a need to use it, so it wasn’t until a routine inspection of the hospital that Spalding’s remains were found.
On Sept 19, Spalding was admitted to the hospital with a urinary tract infection. One of her friends reported she had been feeling disoriented on the medication she was given for this condition. A hospital doctor reported that Spalding’s condition had been improving, which sounds a bit different from her friend’s report.
Chief Medical Examiner Todd May said to the media at a press conference:
“We have no idea how this happened. We are shaken to our core. What happened at the hospital is horrible. Our staff is devastated.”
It was a member of the hospital’s engineering staff who found the body. He was doing a routine inspection at the hospital. The stairway is a fire exit and the outside door is locked, but it has an alarm on the door, the one that Spalding had to walk through to get to where she was found.
When a nurse first found that Spalding was missing she alerted the San Francisco Sheriff’s office. The authorities came into the hospital and conducted their own search.
While the San Francisco General Hospital is called “stellar” by one of Spalding’s friends, he was angry that she was dead in a stairwell within this stellar hospital for 17 days without being found. David Perry was one of the many friends and family that also took part in a search for Spalding. They put fliers up and searched diligently for their friend and family.
Perry was also upset that it took the hospital 10 days before they let the public know that a patient had gone missing. Spalding’s boyfriend and her daughter did not attend the press conference, Perry reports they are devastated at the loss of their loved one. The investigation is on-going today.