A 66-year-old woman, who was mistakenly presumed dead, surprisingly woke up hours later gasping for air inside a body bag at a funeral home in Iowa. Officials said the woman was lucky that she survived inside the body bag for such a long time. The incident happened on January 3 and the hospice facility in Iowa has since been fined $10,000 for the shocking mistake.
According to a citation from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which regulates health facility safety, the woman, who hasn't been publicly identified, spent at least close to 40 minutes traveling from the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center to the funeral home in a body bag.
Matter of Life and Death
According to a report released on Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, a nurse at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center in Urbandale determined that the 66-year-old woman had passed away on January 3. The resident was then transferred to a funeral home.
According to the report, the woman, whose identity has not been made public, was brought to hospice care on December 28 due to "senile degeneration of the brain."
A nurse checked on the patient on January 3 at 6 am and found no signs of life, the report mentioned.
The woman's "mouth was open, her eyes were fixed, and there were no breath sounds," and a nurse was unable to find the woman's pulse using her stethoscope, according to the report.
According to the report, the nurse placed her palm on the woman's abdomen and "noted no movement." The report also states that the nurse informed the on-call hospice nurse and a family member after assuming the patient had died.
"Hospice agreed to call the funeral home and did so," it says.
Nearly an hour and 40 minutes later, a funeral director placed the woman's body on a gurney "inside a cloth bag and zipped it shut," the report says.
According to the report, about 10 minutes later, the director left with the woman. The woman was found alive by funeral home personnel just before 8:30 a.m., according to the report.
"At approximately 8:26 a.m. funeral home staff unzipped the bag and observed Resident #1's chest was moving and she was gasping for air," the report states.
According to the report, EMS staff saw the woman had no eye movement, verbal or vocal response, or motor response when they arrived. They also recorded the woman's pulse.
The woman was brought to the hospital's emergency room. According to the state report, she was brought back to the hospice facility where she died two days later with her loved ones by her side.
According to a representative for the state Department of Inspections and Appeals, the state fined the facility $10,000, the highest permitted by Iowa law.
The facility "failed to provide adequate direction to ensure appropriate cares and services were provided" and that it failed to ensure she received "dignified treatment and care at end of life," a state citation dated Wednesday mentions.