A 66-year-old woman who was presumed dead woke up gasping for air in a body bag at an Iowa funeral home
A 66-year-old woman woke up in a body bag after she was mistakenly declared dead in Iowa last month.
The care facility where she was a resident prematurely sent her to a funeral home.
The care center is now facing a $10,000 fine for the mistake.
A 66-year-old hospice patient received the rudest of awakenings when she came to gasping for air inside a body bag at a funeral home last month.
Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center in Urbandale, Iowa now faces a $10,000 fine for prematurely pronouncing a very-much-alive resident dead.
An Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals incident report released this week accused the facility of failing to ensure residents received "dignified treatment and care at end of life" and fined the center the maximum amount allowed under state law.
After discovering the glaring error, employees at the funeral home called emergency services and the unnamed woman was taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Two days after her harrowing brush with death, the resident died for real, surrounded by her family members in hospice care, the report said.
A nurse at Glen Oaks working the overnight shift on January 3, 2022, said the resident was slowly deteriorating over the course of the night, displaying diminished lung sounds, shallow breaths, and a decreasing pulse, according to incident documents.
Around 6:00 a.m. local time on the morning of Jan. 3, the nurse listened to the woman's chest and said she could not hear the resident breathing; she was also unable to detect a pulse, she told officials.
"She felt the resident had passed away and notified the nurse," the report said
The facility followed standard procedure and called the woman's family and obtained orders from a doctor to release the resident's body to a funeral home, the report said. A funeral director arrived to pick up the body approximately an hour and a half later and put the woman's body inside a cloth bag on a gurney and zipped it shut, according to the docs.
When interviewed by investigators, the funeral director later said the resident was displaying no signs of life at the time.
But less than an hour later, after the woman's body had been transported to the funeral home, an employee unzipped the bag and observed the resident's chest moving and gasping for air, officials said. The funeral home immediately called 911 and the hospice center, and emergency services arrived and transported the resident to the hospital.
Two days later, on Jan. 5, 2022, the woman officially died with her family by her side, the report said.
According to the state, the resident was first admitted to Glen Oaks in December 2021 with end-stage early-onset dementia; she was admitted into hospice care in December 2022 for senile degeneration of the brain.
Linda Eastman, the executive director of Glen Oaks, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, but told a local outlet that the center was in close contact with the woman's family and cooperating with the state's investigation.
"We care deeply for our residents and remain fully committed to supporting their end-of-life care," Eastman told KCCI Des Moines. "All employees undergo regular training so they can best support end-of-life care and the death of our residents."
The facility was fined $500 in 2022 for failing to ensure mandatory background checks for employees after five staffers were revealed to not have the required training, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.
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