TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A hospice care center in Iowa was fined $10,000 for mistakenly pronouncing a 66-year-old woman dead hours before she was found at a funeral home gasping for air in a body bag, according to officials.
A report from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals said the woman was admitted to the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Urbandale on Dec. 20, “due to senile degeneration of the brain.”
Over the next few days, hospice staff recorded the woman’s condition slowly deteriorating.
Her “mouth was open, her eyes were fixed, and there were no breath sounds,” the report said, adding that a nurse was unable to locate the woman’s pulse using her stethoscope.
The nurse “felt” the woman had died and notified a family member and an on-call hospice nurse, according to the report. Hospice staff agreed to call the funeral home.
Nearly two hours later, a funeral director placed the woman’s body on a gurney “inside a cloth bag and zipped it shut.” The funeral director would later tell authorities they did not witness any signs of life at that time.
Approximately two hours and 40 minutes later, funeral home staff unzipped the bag and saw the woman’s “chest moving and she gasped for air. The funeral home then called 911 and hospice.”
At the funeral home, EMS determined the woman was still alive, but noted, “there was no eye movement, no verbal or vocal response, and no motor response.”
The woman was ultimately taken back to the hospice where she passed away two days later with her family at her side.
According to NBC News, a state citation dated Wednesday said 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.”