Oct. 21, 2013video
An orderly at San Francisco General Hospital reportedly told a hospital
nurse that he saw an unconscious woman in a locked stairwell a week
before authorities found a missing patient's body there.
Lynne Spalding, 57, disappeared from her room Sept. 21, two days after
being admitted for an infection. Officials found her body in the locked
stairwell Oct. 8.
The hospital orderly told a nurse Oct. 1 that he had seen an unconscious
woman in the same spot where officials found Spalding and stepped over
her body twice, once going downstairs and again when he returned using
the same stairwell, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, citing sources familiar with the investigation into the patient's death.
There has been no official statement that Spalding was the woman the
orderly discovered, but the revelation has sparked outrage for
"I think what this tells us is what didn't happen in the hospital and it
was what should have happened: immediate care and assistance for
someone who's lying on a stairwell," Spalding family spokesman David
Perry told "Good Morning America."
After the orderly told the nurse about what he'd seen, according to The
Chronicle, the nurse contacted the Sheriff's Department, which provides
security for the hospital. It's unclear how authorities responded to the
call, the newspaper reported. It's possible no deputy responded, or
that the deputy was dispatched to the wrong location, according to The
"The big question is now is: what did the Sheriff's Department know? And
what did they do about this?" Audrey Cooper, managing editor of The
Chronicle, told "GMA."
The Sheriff's Department said in a statement, "We are still investigating every aspect of this case."
San Francisco General said in a statement it is "committed to finding
out exactly what happened so that it will never happen again."
It's unclear whether the woman was still alive when the orderly found her.
Spalding's family reported her missing the day she vanished and said
she might have been confused by her medications and wandered away.
Hospital personnel had been checking on her every 15 minutes, Perry, the
family spokesman, said.
The cause of death has not been determined, but authorities do not suspect foul play.
Perry described what happened to Spalding as "inexcusable."
"It's a horrible, horrible nightmare," he added.