Woman found alive at funeral home after being declared dead

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

It’s the third time in the U.S. over the past 18 months that a person who was declared dead has been found alive at a funeral home.

OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska funeral home discovered that a 74-year-old hospice patient who was declared dead by her nursing home two hours earlier was actually still alive, so workers started CPR and she was rushed to a hospital, where she died hours later.

It’s not clear how often this happens, but at least two similar incidents have been reported at funeral homes in New York and Iowa in the past 18 months.

The Nebraska woman was in hospice care at the The Mulberry nursing home in the Lincoln suburb of Waverly before she was declared dead Monday morning, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.

Workers at Butherus Maser & Love Funeral Home noticed she was still breathing just before noon immediately after laying her on the embalming table, Chief Deputy Ben Houchin said.

“I can’t imagine their shock,” he said Tuesday.

The woman was taken to a Lincoln hospital, where she died Monday afternoon.

The sheriff’s office is looking into what happened, but Houchin said investigators hadn’t found any initial evidence that laws were broken. He said it’s common for nursing homes not to call the sheriff’s department when someone who has been in hospice care dies.

The woman had seen her doctor a few days beforehand, and Houchin said he was willing to sign off on her death certificate because her death was expected. But that hadn’t happened before she was found alive.

“I’m sure the nursing home and everybody’s going to be taking a look into what has happened,” said Houchin. “And I’m sure they’ll look and see if new protocols need to be made or if they were all followed.”

A woman who answered the phone at the nursing home declined to comment Tuesday.

In the previous reported incidents, a woman was declared dead prematurely in New York last year just days after an Iowa nursing home was fined $10,000 for doing the same thing.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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