Florida medics suspended after 'dead' patient, 65, found alive

Florida medics pronounce patient, 65, dead – only for a deputy to discover he was breathing less than 30 minutes later

  • Medics pronounced man dead ‘shortly after arriving at home in Pinellas County
  • But 30 minutes later officers said that the patient was breathing again
  • READ MORE: New York woman, 82, found breathing hours after death declared 

A Florida man, 65, was discovered to be breathing 28 minutes after medics declared him dead.

Medics rushed to a home in Pinellas County, near Tampa, on Wednesday where an unnamed man had reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest. 

Shortly after their arrival, medics declared him dead. It was only when police officers arrived 30 minutes later that it was discovered he was still alive. 

Officials fear the ailing man was denied vital care for nearly 30 minutes while he was believed to be dead. Two paramedics involved with the initial declaration have been suspended. 

It is not the first time emergency services have made this error. Earlier this month an 82-year-old woman in a New York nursing home was pronounced dead — only to be found breathing again three hours later.

Clearwater Fire and Rescue (pictured) in Pinellas County sent the two paramedics that have now been suspended pending an investigation

As of Saturday, the patient was said to be recovering in hospital. No further information on the individual has been released so far. It is unclear what treatment, if any, the patient received when paramedics first arrived.

Sudden cardiac arrest is when an irregular heart rhythm causes all activity in the heart to cease.

In sufferers, the heart may stop breathing, they may stop breathing and they become unconscious.

Doctors say that immediate medical treatment is needed to ensure survival. CPR and a defibrillator to shock the heart to restart are recommended.

It is not clear how patients who do not receive rapid medical care survive.

Many patients who experience cardiac arrests do not survive. Those who do may suffer other complications including brain injury because the brain has been starved of oxygen during the arrest.

Woman, 66, with Alzheimer’s sent to funeral home in body bag later found gasping for air


Officials said the 66-year-old woman was declared dead at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Centre in Urbandale, Iowa, on January 3.

CFR chief Scott Ehlers told Florida media: ‘Upon notification of this incident, we immediately removed both fire medics from their normal duties and discontinued their abilities to provide patient care, in conjunction with the county’s medical director.

‘On behalf of the city, I apologize for the actions and the inactions of our crew during this incident.

‘We have strict policies and procedures in place that were not followed, according to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve.’

to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve.’

Interim Clearwater City Manager Jennifer Poirrier added: ‘When this does not occur at the level at which we expect, it is incumbent upon us to determine exactly what happened, why it happened, and then ensure it will never happen again.’

It was not clear whether the paramedics would return to active service. 

This is at least the third time medics have made the error so far this year.

Earlier this month an 82-year-old woman in a New York nursing home was pronounced dead and sent to a funeral home.

But just 40 minutes after she arrived, workers noticed that she was still breathing and quickly transferred her to hospital.

In another case in January, a 66-year-old woman at an Iowa nursing home was also pronounced dead and sent to a funeral home.

But upon arrival at the home workers discovered the woman, who was sent in a body bag, was alive and gasping for air.

The care home — Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center — has been fined $10,000 for the error.

What is a cardiac arrest? 

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body, which is usually due to a problem with electrical signals in the organ.

This causes the brain to be starved of oxygen, which results in sufferers not breathing and losing consciousness.

In the UK, more than 30,000 cardiac arrests occur a year outside of hospital, compared to over 356,000 in the US.

Cardiac arrests are different to heart attacks, with the latter occurring when blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off due to a clot in one of the coronary arteries.

Common causes include heart attacks, heart disease and heart muscle inflammation.

Drug overdose and losing a large amount of blood can also be to blame.

Giving an electric shock through the chest wall via a defibrillator can start the heart again.

In the meantime, CPR can keep oxygen circulating around the body.

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