The entire UK has been appalled by the death of British patient Lynne Spalding in the San Francisco’s General Hospital last autumn. The female patient had been missing for 17 days when she was finally found on the hospital’s stairwell, after a medical worker has stepped over her body twice. These reports have outraged the family of the British woman, and not only, who has retained legal counsel and may have a great case of medical negligence. Lynne Spalding was admitted to the San Francisco’s General Hospital for a urinary tract infection and the doctors said she was improving, but she vanished from her bed two days after her admittance. Records say that a medical worker stumbled upon a woman lying in the stairwell twice and notified a nurse, who allegedly notified in her turn the Sheriff’s Department, as the woman was thought to be a homeless person sleeping on the stairwell. Anonymous sources also noted that the woman was still alive when the medical worker stumbled upon her. However, it took several days for another worker to notice her body and someone to come down and identify the woman as the missing patient. By that time, Lynne Spalding was already dead.

The family of the British patient who died in the San Francisco hospital immediately started asking for explanations and answers and little has been divulged to them, since a thorough investigation was underway. However, they were told she didn’t die from foul play, but the US Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined several problems that they consider to have contributed to the death of the patient. Three weeks ago, the hospital released a plan for addressing and fixing the outlined problems. The investigation revealed that not only the staff of the sheriff’s department had not included all of the hospital’s stairwells in the search, but that the hospital also had technical problems with the security alarms and surveillance cameras. Even though the hospital has undergone several reviews and the sheriff’s department made staffing changes, federal investigators are still visiting the medical facility to re-survey it for general security and patient safety.

Regardless of the autopsy report, which fails to determine the exact date and time of death, the Spalding’s family is sure that their relative died from neglect and that, if the search for the missing patient had been carried out properly or the right procedural steps had been followed, the result would have been differently and Lynne Spalding would have still been alive. Needless to say that, after the conclusion of all the federal investigations and the changes in the hospital’s administrative department that these investigations generated, there is a high probability that the family of Lynne Spalding will file for a medical negligence claim and demand compensation. The issues of missing patients and hospital security are of high concern both in the UK and the US, which is why several policies have been instated in order for the medical staff to know exactly how to act in such an unfortunate event so that the risk to the patient is significantly reduced. However, when this doesn’t happen and the medical staff fails to take the necessary steps, the hospitals or their trust is liable to malpractice suit.

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It is a well known fact that when a person goes missing the first thing you need to do is alert the police and file a missing person report. Although it is surely a very difficult time that you go through and you certainly feel scared and anguished, time is essential in these matters and the sooner you file that report, the sooner the police can begin their search, which means higher chances of finding the person. The UK government supports the families of missing people and you can find out more on Because of the fact that most people are overwhelmed with the disappearing of their loved ones, especially if they are children, many of them file poor reports, being unable to focus and remember details that can prove to be important in the investigation and during the search. Providing the police with exhaustive information about the missing person significantly increases the chances of a favourable outcome, which is why it is important for people to know how to file a missing person report.

The very first thing that the report should include is the physical description of the person. When you go down to the police station, make sure you have at least three current photos of your loved one that will be added to the file. However, the detailed physical description is important, as the photos are not always seen by everybody and the image of the person may have changed. The description should include weight, height and build, as well as age and hair and eye colour. Identifying characteristics like tattoos or scars should also be included in the description. You should also give a description of the clothes and shoes that the person was wearing when he or she was least seen, which should also include any apparel he or she might have head, such as headphones or anything like that. It would be very helpful if the report included a lost of possessions the missing person was carrying or personal articles, such as glasses or contact lenses, jewellery, a bag or a purse, any kind of accessories, a wallet and most importantly credit cards, which the police can trace.

The missing person report is not just a descriptive report and must also contain essential information about the persons, not simply his or her description. For instance, you ought to include in the report any medication the person was taking, any medical condition they were suffering from, any allergies or handicap, all of these being extremely helpful for the police search. Even if you are planning on calling and contacting everyone the missing person knows and had contact with, it is important to provide this list to the police as well, a list of friends, co workers, colleagues, teachers, anyone who had regular contact with the person, as well as a list of places the person frequents. The more detailed your report is and the more information it contains, the easier it will be for the police to begin the search and conduct it properly, increasing the chances of finding the person quickly, safe and sound.

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I remember the old movies when they had a missing person plot and they always showed the picture of the missing person on milk cartons. This was the way they tried to raise awareness back then. Today, things are a lot different, as media channels have diversified and expended tremendously, especially with the rise of the Internet. When a person goes missing today, his or her family and friends don’t just do flyers anymore. In fact flyers are at the bottom of the list. They resort to social media instead and media stream channels that can go viral instantly, such as Facebook, Twitter and others of the sort. Apart from alerting the local TV stations and radio stations, they also have access to online directories especially created for missing persons, where multiple agencies and organisations share information and coordinate details. All of these mass media efforts are very important in finding a missing person and here is why.

First of all, through media channels you get to raise awareness for your case. If everywhere you turn you see the face of a man or a woman or a child missing, this image gets imprinted into your memory and the moment you see something that is related or can help, you instantly recognize it and call the police or the number usually listed on these media channels. Furthermore, by using all types of channels, local stations, different social media platforms and so on, you guarantee access to a large community of people who might be able to help. Some people watch TV, others just listen to the radio, kids only use Facebook and Twitter, but one way or another they all see that picture and hear about your case, so they may be able to help. Raising awareness has always been a big part of missing persons cases and in many of these cases it generated great results.

Another reason for which media alert is important in a missing person case is that it can put pressure on the police. The police departments face numerous cases of missing persons and their resources are limited, which is why, unfortunately, in many situations they renounce working on certain cases, especially those in which some time has passed. By having constant appearances and mentions in the media, the police may feel pressured to stay focused on your case and allocate time and resources to it, otherwise it risks a bad reputation and advertising, not to mention liability for poor job performance. All in all, alerting the media and using its every channel to support your case and raise awareness, can be very beneficial and significantly increase the chances of a favourable outcome for your case, meaning the finding of your loved one safe and sound and as soon as possible.

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If a loved one is missing, everybody will tell you that the first thing you need to do is call the police. Every article and resource on missing persons will tell you the same thing. And they are all right. In the case you have reasons to worry and believe a person has gone missing, your first action should be alerting the police and help them with any information and detail you have, so that they can begin and conduct their search properly. Read more about this on But what do you do when days go by, months or perhaps years and the police strikes out? Below, you will be able to find some of the steps you can take to find a missing person when the police can’t or won’t help.

There are other organisations that you can contact in the case of a missing person, apart from the police. In the UK, there is charity called Missing People and other online directories that deal with such cases, while in the US, there is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a service operated by the Department of Justice where information about missing persons is uploaded and useable by many agencies and individual users. Conducting your own search is always an option, which you can do by contacting the person’s friends, family members, acquaintances or people he or she had regular contact with, as well as by checking their homes and putting out flyers or alerting the media. Getting the media involved also has the added benefit of putting pressure on the police and determine them to allocate more time and resources to your case.

Another thing you can do is call the police every day. You have the right to ask for information about developments in your case, as well as about what resources are allocated to it and what’s being done. Budget cuts always stretch police departments thin and, as time goes by, officers redirect their attention towards more current cases. If you call the police department daily, officers will be more inclined to keep working on your case than if they never hear from you. It is also very important to never lose hope and never give up. Look at the triple kidnapping case in Cleveland. The three women were held in a house against their will for ten years and they were found not due to the police search or even by the police, but by a concerned neighbour who heard one of them screaming and busted down the door.

All things considered, when someone you love is missing, it is important to do anything within your powers to find them, not simply rely on the search conducted by the police. Collaborate with them and help them in any way that you can, but also pressure them into dedicating resources and time to your case and conduct your own search in parallel. Don’t give up and don’t lose hope, as many missing persons were found after years or decades even.

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