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Woman freezes to death in morgue freezer

An incident involving a woman who died by hypothermia and asphyxiation after she was put in a body bag by hospital personnel may be of some interest to people who live in South Carolina. The 80-year-old woman from California was originally believed to have died from a heart attack back in July 2010. The hospital declared her to be dead, and she was put in the hospital's morgue, according to the report.

Morticians for the woman were the ones who found her body with bruises and cuts on her face and a broken nose. Since her body was also face down in the body bag, a pathologist concluded that she had woken up in the freezer and had tried to get out.

Court records reported that pathologist shared this opinion during the court proceedings in 2011. He stated she was pronounced dead prematurely, woke up in the hospital morgue and died from a combination of asphyxiation and hypothermia. Furthermore, the pathologist believed that the injuries she suffered were self-inflicted from attempting to free herself. The family of the victim then withdrew their older lawsuit and filed a new one in 2012 citing medical malpractice as the cause of the grandmother's death. However, the lawsuit was overturned by the Los Angeles County Superior Court because it was not filed within the statute of limitations.

The case was then sent to an appellate court that ruled in favor of the family's case, saying they would have had no reason to believe the woman was still alive had the pathologist's statement not been known. The case will now be handled in a lower court where a lawyer, using reports by morticians and the pathologist, may be able to prove that hospital negligence led to the death of this woman. Through an effective defense, the family may be able to receive monetary compensation from the liable party in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: CBS News, "Woman allegedly freezes to death in hospital morgue", April 03, 2014

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Furr & Henshaw
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Myrtle Beach, SC 29578

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