San Francisco hospital and mayor promise action after missing patient dies
A patient death at San Francisco General Hospital has prompted extensive criticism and pledges to find out how the 57-year-old woman could be missing for 17 days before her body was found in a stairwell.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee held a news conference in which he promised an independent review of safety and security at San Francisco General Hospital. Authorities were baffled by how the woman disappeared and subsequently died without being discovered for so long. Hospital officials issued statements confirming that the woman disappeared on a busy fifth-floor corridor that passes a bank of elevators, a hallway to another unit, and numerous doors.
The unit’s exit door is equipped with an alarm that sounded when Lee tested it in front of the media, as he and other city officials toured the area to understand how the woman died.
"We just tested the door on the fifth floor and as soon as it opened, there was a slight delay, but there was an alarm that you could hear," the mayor explained to reporters outside after his tour. "But it’s a very busy floor, as well. There is constant motion on that floor. So you have to put all of the facts into perspective."
Police are investigating the death, and in addition to the city’s own investigation, it is also bringing in an outside safety consultant. Lee said the primary questions are how the patient could get to the fourth floor stairwell without setting off the door alarm, why the alarm was ignored if it sounded, and why the stairwell was not searched when the patient was first reported missing.
Spalding had been admitted for complications related to an infection. The hospital said she had improved and was in fair condition when she left her room.