Valley woman mistakenly thought dead after hospital mixup

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix family received a shocking phone call after a mixup at a Valley hospital.

"She just grabbed me and hugged me and said, 'Oh Mom, you're alive!,' " Maeola Lawson recalled. "I said, 'Yeah, yeah what happened?' She said, 'We just left the hospital and you're supposed to be dead.' "

Lawson is celebrating life after her family was told Thursday morning that she was dead.

“Well, I'm happy to be alive,” Lawson said. “Trust me, it's a good feeling.”

It turns out Maryvale Hospital was mistaken.

The deceased woman was actually Lawson's friend and neighbor. She was found unresponsive in a hallway at the Casa de Primavera retirement community and transported to Maryvale Hospital by ambulance early Thursday morning.

“I understand from the address and she was a black woman with gray hair, so I guess they assumed it was me,” Lawson said.

The deceased woman also did not have any identification but was carrying Lawson's prescription inhaler, according to the hospital. Lawson said she gave the medication to the woman earlier this week.

Meanwhile, one of Lawson's sons had already gone to the hospital to identify the body.

“Her daughter in Atlanta already purchased airline tickets to get out here,” said Katrina Williams, Lawson's niece. “They even gave Edward, her son, this information packet on grief and funeral homes and that wasn't even his mother.”

Williams says they will file a formal grievance in hopes that the hospital will somehow compensate Lawson's family members for their pain.

Maryvale Hospital admitted its staff mistakenly assumed the name on the inhaler was that of the woman in possession of it and has since apologized for the mixup.

The hospital also released the following statement:

“This patient was brought to us by our local EMS without valid identification. The only available information was on an inhaler that she had, which our staff mistakenly took to be an accurate reflection of her identity. Our hospital identification protocol requires validation from government issued IDs or family members, when appropriate. In cases when we are not able to identify an individual, we coordinate with the police department. We are re-educating our staff to follow this protocol in all cases. We sincerely apologize to the family that was incorrectly notified, and we are working with the local authorities to determine the correct identity of the individual.”