By Dan Simon
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU/CNN) - There are still no clear answers as to how a patient at a San Francisco hospital ended up dead in a stairwell. City and hospital officials are promising a thorough investigation.
Missing person fliers hung throughout the city as a community searched for Lynne Spalding. The search turned out to be useless. The 57-year-old apparently had been dead or dying in a hospital stairwell for more than two weeks after she checked into San Francisco general with a bladder infection.
An autopsy will hopefully shed some light on just how long she lived before a member of the hospital's engineering staff, making a routine quarterly check, discovered her body.
"Certainly there's a possibility that simplest explanation is that she entered this stairwell and fell perhaps smacked her head," said forensic scientist Dr. Larence Kobilinsky.
Dr. Kobilinsky is a renowned forensic scientist and not attached to the case. He says the body will provide clues as to what happened. A fall? A heart attack? Too much medication? All things to be studied. But what about the hospital?
"This institution should have been looked at everywhere from top to bottom every room every possible place a person could be found and I would say the san Francisco hospital does not look good at this point," said Dr. Kobilinsky.
"The city is responsible for everything that happened here," said Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee offered those blunt words, also saying Thursday that he's asked for an independent review of the hospital, owned and operated by the city.
"This should not have happened. And we all agree and we want to prevent it from happening again," said Dr. Todd May, chief medical officer at San Francisco General Hospital.
San Francisco General until now, has had a good reputation. For example, it successfully treated many of the injured patients from the recent Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport.
"We are here to provide patient care and security to more than 100,000 patients each year, and their families. Nothing like this has happened before. This is without precedent," said Dr. May.
For now, we're still left to wonder. Why did Spalding leave her room? Why did she go to that fire escape stairwell? And why did it take so long for someone at the hospital to find her?