Man is declared dead but still alive

Paramedics' procedures are reviewed


 
 

Lynn Safranek, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER | | Friday, August 31, 2007


The Omaha Fire Department is reviewing procedures that paramedics followed Sunday when they declared an Omaha man dead who was found to be alive less than two hours later.

Eric B. Lindwall, 46, lived until Monday -- the day after he was taken in critical condition to Lakeside Hospital from his home at 15431 Douglas Circle.

Omahapolice were called to Lindwall's home about 4:30 p.m. Sunday after a concerned neighbor reported that Lindwall's newspapers and mail had been accumulating.

The officers arrived at 4:54 p.m.

At 5:51 p.m., the officers called for a rescue squad to check on an unconscious person.

The paramedics examined Lindwall and declared him dead because he showed early and later signs of death, said Battalion Chief Perry Guido.

Early death signs could include cold skin, lack of a pulse, no breath and fixed, dilated pupils. When assessing later signs of death, paramedics look for wrinkled corneas, rigor mortis, pooling of the blood, putrefaction or an obvious deformity that caused the death, Guido said.

Even one sign of what Guido called "late death" can conclusively show that a person has died, he said.

The paramedics left Lindwall's home at 6:02 p.m.

A rescue squad was called back to Lindwall's home at 7:28 p.m.

He wasn't dead, Guido said.

This time, a rescue squad rushed Lindwall to Lakeside.

Lindwall's cause of death was not available from authorities. A memorial service was held for him on Wednesday. His family declined to comment today.

The paramedics and their supervisors immediately reviewed their actions after Lindwall was discovered alive, Guido said.

The Omaha Fire Department also is conducting an in-depth review of the incident to determine if the paramedics followed proper procedures.

Signs of early and late death can be masked by factors such as pre-existing medical conditions, prescription drugs, alcohol or hypothermia, Guido said.

A mix of factors -- or even one of the factors -- can lead to a rare misdiagnosis of death, he said.

Copyright 2007 The Omaha World-Herald Company




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