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California woman frozen by mistake, medical malpractice alleged

Losing a loved one is an understandably difficult situation, even when it is a natural death. The emotions that can come with a loss can be confusing and overwhelming. What can make the death of a family member or friend even harder is finding out that there was an error and that the loved one may still be alive if not for that mistake. This is sadly the case that may have led to a medical malpractice lawsuit in California.

An 80-year-old woman was allegedly mispronounced as being dead after a heart attack. The body was apparently put in the morgue’s freezer before she was actually deceased. A report indicated that the hospital’s morticians later found the woman’s body flipped onto her stomach. She also apparently had a broken nose along with cuts and bruises on her face.

The woman’s family members filed a lawsuit against the hospital claiming that their loved one’s body was incorrectly handled. They later dropped the claim and filed the medical malpractice suit after a pathologist testified that the woman’s condition was not from mishandling, but from her actually waking up and trying to free herself from the freezer. The lawsuit was initially thrown out based on the case being past a one-year statute, however it was reopened when an appellate hearing found that the family was not aware that the woman was alive until the pathologist mentioned it.

Knowing that a loved one’s life could have possibly been saved can make dealing with a death hard. This family surely has suffered through this loss, but have chosen to take steps to hold the facility responsible for what they believe to be medical malpractice. Sometimes, taking this kind of civil action against apparent negligence can help a California family find comfort in knowing they may help prevent another from suffering the way that their loved one did.

Source:, “Malpractice Suit Over Frozen California Woman to Proceed“, , April 4, 2014