Iowa care centre fined after woman sent to funeral home in a body bag was found to be alive
A US care centre has been fined $10,000 (£8,185) after a funeral home discovered a woman sent to it in a body bag was still alive.
The Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals said the 66-year-old woman was declared dead at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Centre in Urbandale on 3 January.
The woman, whose name has not been released, had early onset dementia, anxiety and depression and had been in hospice care since 28 December.
She was placed in a zipped body bag and taken to the Ankeny Funeral Home & Crematory, where workers found that she was breathing and called emergency services.
She was taken to Mercy West Lakes Hospital, where she was breathing but unresponsive.
The woman was ultimately returned to hospice care, where she died on 5 January.
A Glen Oaks staff member who had worked a 12-hour shift and was on the team caring for the woman told investigators she first reported to a nurse practitioner early on 3 January that the woman was not breathing and had no pulse.
The nurse practitioner who had cared for the woman throughout the night also was unable to find a pulse and said the woman was not breathing.
She continued to assess the woman for about five minutes before determining the woman had died.
The woman was declared dead at about 6.30am local time, roughly 90 minutes after the staff member’s first report.
And a funeral home employee and a second nurse practitioner who put the woman into the body bag and the funeral home’s vehicle about an hour later also found no signs of life, according to the report.
Lisa Eastman, executive director of the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Centre, said in a statement that the centre cares deeply about its residents and remains committed to supporting end-of-life care.
“All of our employees are given regular training in how best to support end-of-life care and the death transition for our residents.”
The Ankeny police department is not pursuing criminal charges.
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