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California Hospital Under Scrutiny After Patient Dies After Going Missing

San Francisco General Hospital is facing tough questions after a patient wandered away from her room. The body of 57-year-old Lynne Spalding was found two weeks later in a hospital stairway.

According to a joint statement by the hospital and law enforcement, Spalding was being treated for a bladder infection. “She was in fair condition when she left her hospital room shortly after being checked on by a nurse at 10:15 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, the nurse checked on her again, and upon finding her room empty, initiated a search of the hospital,” the statement reads.

After the hospital reported that Spalding could not be found on the premises, her family launched a Facebook page, posted missing flyers, and conducted their own search. A member of the hospital’s engineering staff who was conducting a routine quarterly check eventually found her body in the stairwell. “The exterior stairwell is a fire exit that is not routinely used by staff, patients or the public. It is alarmed and locks from the outside; it exits to the hospital grounds at the bottom,” the statement said.

Hospital officials and police are still investigating what happened and how long Spalding may have been dead before her body was discovered. Understandably, Spalding’s friends and family are saddened and angry about what happened, particularly because they were told the hospital was thoroughly searched.

“So we have a lot of questions as her family and friends,” said David Perry, a Spalding family spokesman. “Did anyone see her leave the room? Did she leave alone? Is there videotape of Lynne leaving the hospital or wandering the halls?”

As San Diego injury lawyers, we hope that the investigation reveals what happened and the hospital puts procedures in place to prevent a similar tragedy.