Woman found 'gasping for air' inside body bag at funeral home
A care home has been fined $10,000 for the incident.
A woman was left "gasping for air" in a body bag at a funeral home after she had been falsely declared dead.
Officials said the 66-year-old woman was declared dead at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Centre in Urbandale in Iowa on 3 January after a staff member who had worked a 12-hour shift first reported to a nurse practitioner that the woman was not breathing and had no pulse.
The woman, whose name has not been released, had early-onset dementia, anxiety and depression and had been in hospice care since 28 December.
The care centre has been fined $10,000 by the state over the incident.
After the report from the staff member, the nurse practitioner also was unable to find a pulse and said the woman was not breathing.
After assessing her for five more minutes, she determined the woman had passed away.
The woman was declared at about 6.30am, about 90 minutes after the first report from the staff member.
She was then placed in a zipped body bag and transported to the Ankeny Funeral Home and Crematory, the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals said in a report filed on Wednesday.
A funeral home staff member and a second nurse practitioner who put the woman into the body bag and the funeral home's vehicle around an hour later also saw no signs of life, the report states.
But when staff at the funeral home unzipped the bag, they saw that her "chest was moving and she was gasping for air".
Staff then called 911, and emergency responders were able to record a pulse and a shallow breath.
She was taken to Mercy West Lakes Hospital, where she was breathing but unresponsive, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.
In the end, she was returned to hospice care and passed away two days later on 5 January with her family by her side.
The report on the episode concluded that the care centre "failed to provide adequate direction to ensure appropriate cares and services were provided" before the woman was declared dead.
Rxecutive director of the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Centre Lisa Eastman 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," she added.
The Ankeny Police Department is said to be not pursuing criminal charges.