A California family was devastated when they learned that their 80-year-old wife and mother died as a result of cardiac arrest. Or at least, that's what doctors said caused her death. The truth may be much more complicated and could come out as a result of a medical malpractice lawsuit that the woman's family recently filed.
The lawsuit claims that the hospital had been negligent in their handling of the woman's body and their assessment of the woman's condition. The family argues that although the woman did go into cardiac arrest, she was not actually dead. Initially, their lawsuit was denied because it had been more than a year since the incident occurred, which exceeded that statute of limitations. But thanks to a new theory that has emerged, an appeals court decided that the case could continue based on the new information.
The information comes from a medical expert's opinion that the woman was still alive when she was transferred to the hospital morgue, but froze to death after trying to get out of the freezer in which she had been placed. The expert cites evidence including various bruises and broken bones that the woman had suffered. She was also found in the freezer face down instead of face up, which indicated she had moved positions.
The family is claiming that the hospital and doctor are responsible for the woman's wrongful death as a result of their negligence. The hospital, on the other hand, claims that they complied with standard procedures, though they have not issued an explanation for how the woman suffered her injuries or moved after being pronounced dead.
Hopefully, this woman's family can get some concrete information as a result of their lawsuit. Knowing how someone died and what factors may have contributed to the loss can help the people left behind cope with a tragic death and find some closure. Taking legal action after a loved one has died can be an effective way to identify negligent behaviors that contributed to the loss and hold the appropriate parties legally and financially responsible.
Source: ABC News, "Man Says Wife Froze to Death in Morgue," Katie Moisse, April 4, 2014