Have you ever heard of a case in which a person was mistakenly pronounced dead, only to later be found alive? This is exactly what happened to a 66-year-old woman in Iowa. Recently, the hospice care center responsible for the woman was fined $10,000 for the mistake.
The woman was admitted to the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Urbandale on Dec. 20, due to senile degeneration of the brain. Over the next few days, her condition gradually deteriorated and the nurse on duty felt she had died. The nurse notified a family member and an on-call hospice nurse, and they agreed to call the funeral home.
At the funeral home, the woman’s body was placed in a body bag and zipped shut. However, two hours and 40 minutes later, when the funeral home staff unzipped the bag, they saw the woman’s chest moving and she was gasping for air. They then called 911 and the hospice.
When the woman was taken back to the hospice, EMS determined she was still alive, but with no eye movement, no verbal or vocal response, and no motor response. She passed away two days later with her family at her side.
The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals issued a citation stating that the facility failed to provide adequate direction to ensure appropriate care and services were provided, and failed to ensure the woman received dignified treatment and care at the end of her life. As a result, the hospice care center was fined $10,000.
It’s a shocking story that serves as a reminder of the importance of providing dignified care and services to those at the end of their lives.