Tyne & Wear

Lynne Spalding death: US hospital security measures improved

Lynne Spalding Image copyright David Perry
Image caption Lynne Spalding worked in the tourism industry

Security measures have been improved at a hospital in the US where a British woman was found dead in a stairwell.

Lynne Spalding, from Haswell in County Durham, was found yards from her bed at San Francisco General Hospital last October, 17 days after going missing.

Health inspectors have now carried out an investigation into patient safety, privacy and security at the hospital.

A spokesman said Ms Spalding's family was in the "forefront" of their minds as they worked to improve standards.

Ms Spalding, 57, who moved to San Francisco several years ago and worked in the city's tourism and hospitality industry, was being treated for a bladder infection at the hospital.

Following her disappearance on 21 September, the hospital was searched and police opened a missing person investigation. But Sheriff Department deputies failed to look in all the stairwells.

It later emerged the department had 30% fewer staff than usual.

This prompted an investigation in November by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which monitors health and safety standards at hospitals in the US.

The hospital has now implemented a number of improvements, including new patient tracking systems, daily security checks of emergency stairwells and improvements in the treatment of at-risk patients.

'Bang to rights'

A statement from the hospital said: "We have made significant progress toward a safer and more secure hospital.

"Many of the changes outlined in the Plan of Correction already have been implemented and we can assure Ms Spalding's family, and all our patients, visitors and staff, that we are a safer organisation today.

"Her [Lynne Spalding's] family is in the forefront of our minds as we continue to work to improve safety and security for all our patients."

The federal investigators returned last week to re-survey the hospital and its staff and concluded that San Francisco General was now "in compliance with all requirements".

Ms Spalding's twin brother Bill, from Easington Lane, near Sunderland, said: "My sister died a grim and callous death in a place she imagined would offer heartfelt concern and painstaking care.

"They've leaked and misled throughout this and a damning report has them bang to rights."

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