An Alzheimer’s hospice facility has been fined $10,000 after a nurse mistakenly declared a woman dead. According to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, she was discovered to be alive when the funeral director opened the body bag.
The 66-year-old woman, who has not been identified, allegedly died on January 3, 2023, according to a nurse at Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center. She had been admitted to the facility in late December due to “senile degeneration of the brain.”
According to the report, she was found to have no signs of life when a nurse checked her vitals at 6 a.m. on January 3rd. Her “eyes were fixed, the mouth was open and there was no breathing”, the report stated. The nurse was unable to find a pulse and noted no movement in her abdomen. She subsequently called the family and the on-call hospice nurse, after presuming that she had died.
The hospice facility then called the funeral home.
Nearly two hours later, the body was placed on a gurney by the funeral director and zipped shut. They left approximately 10 minutes later. Just a little before 8:30 a.m., however, staff at the funeral home found that the woman was still alive and was “gasping for air”.
They immediately opened the body bag and noticed movements in the woman’s chest, which prompted them to call 911 as well as the hospice.
When emergency medical services arrived, they noted that the woman did have a pulse, though she did not have any motor, vocal, or verbal response. She was subsequently taken to the local hospital. She eventually returned to the hospice center two days later where she passed away with her family members by her side.
The state has since fined the center $10,000, for having “failed to provide adequate care and treatment at end of life.” The executive director of the facility has also been in touch with the woman’s family.