A breach in security allowed a 75-year-old resident of the senior center on the San Francisco General Hospital’s campus to disappear. She was found in the stairwell of a nearby power plant 10 days after being reported missing. The woman signed herself out at 9 a.m. on May 19 – she was technically a resident of the residential care center for the elderly at the Behavioral Health Center instead of a patient. This, officials explain, meant she could sign herself in and out.
According to the Bay City News Service and San Francisco Chronicle, the woman was found by a member of the power plant’s staff. The doors to the power plant were unlocked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day to allow staff and materials to easily move through the building.
This care facility is operated by the city’s Department of Public Health. The sheriff’s department provides security for the building and the campus, and it patrols interiors of hospital buildings as well as outside areas of the campus, but they do not patrol the power plant’s interior. A security card is now required to gain access to the plant at any time.
The woman’s daughter has gone on the record expressing her outrage in several interviews in regards to this high-profile case, saying that her mother suffered from dementia.
Not the first time this has happened
This is not the first time that a person has gone missing and died at San Francisco General Hospital. A patient was found in a hospital stairwell more than two weeks after she had gone missing from her room. The hospital changed its protocols after the 2013 incident, but those changes didn’t include the power plant involved in the 2018 disappearance. The family of the victim received $3 million in damages for a wrongful death lawsuit.
A potential wrongful death suit
The 2013 wrongful death case is resolved, but this 2018 disappearance and death will likely involve a wrongful death suit by the family. If a loved one dies or is injured due to negligence by an elder care facility or doctor, it advisable to consider legal counsel with an attorney who has experience in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. They can help determine if there is a potential case.