Coroner ties alcoholism to hospital stairway death - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Coroner ties alcoholism to hospital stairway death

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The autopsy report on a woman found dead in a stairwell at SF General Hospital is out. (Source: KGO/FACEBOOK/CNN) The autopsy report on a woman found dead in a stairwell at SF General Hospital is out. (Source: KGO/FACEBOOK/CNN)

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO/FACEBOOK/CNN) – The autopsy report on a woman found dead in a stairwell at San Francisco General is out, but the report isn't sitting will with her family and friends.

The attorney for the family of the victim, 57-year-old Lynne Spalding, says the entire case have been mismanaged from day one.

Spalding was found dead in a locked stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital 17 days after she was reported missing from her hospital room.

The medical examiner's report says Spalding died of "probable electrolyte imbalance with delirium…clinical sepsis…while in stairwell due to complications of chronic ethanolism…clinical history."

Ethanolism refers to alcohol, which has the Spalding family very upset.

"Now that they've added this as a secondary cause of death – acute alcoholism by history – that is absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary; that is not why this lady dies," Spalding family attorney Haig Harris said.

Harris also said the family was supposed to receive the medical examiner's report before the media did, but says that was not the case Friday.

"I certainly will pursue through various avenues that there be some investigation into the way this particular case has been handled, whether it's through a regulatory agency or through a grand jury," Harris said.

Some of Spalding's friends say they're angry because they feel the report blames the victim, saying Spalding would still be alive had the hospital not lost here. The friends also say they still don't really know how Spalding died.

Dr. Thomas Shaughnessey of Sutter Health in San Francisco explained the medical examiner's report.

"The electrolyte imbalances, in combination with a liver whose inability to compensate for them, resulted in a collapse of her heart or her brain resulting in death," Shaughnessey said.

San Francisco General Hospital says it has not yet reviewed the report, but hopes it can help the family and hospital better understand what happened.

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