In a case that was upsettingly similar to one that occurred five years earlier, the city and Zuckerberg SF General Hospital have agreed to settle with the family that brought a lawsuit over the death of a woman who got accidentally locked in a stairwell on the hospital grounds and was later found dead.
As SFist reported last summer, 75-year-old dementia patient Ruby Lee Andersen was found dead in May 2018, eleven days after going missing from the residential care facility at SF General — known as the Behavioral Health Center’s Residential Care Facility for the Elderly at 887 Potrero Avenue. She had told staff she was going to a nearby store to buy a hearing-aid battery, but subsequently went missing, and was later found in a locked stairwell of a different building nearby.
Anderson's four children sued last year, saying that the Behavioral Health Center staff had "done nothing" to care for their mother despite her showing signs of confusion and dementia. Additionally, the hospital and the Sheriff's Department were blamed for faulty door alarms that were never triggered when Anderson entered the stairwell, and for failing to conduct a thorough search of the hospital campus when she disappeared.
The city has now agreed to settle with the family for $1.2 million, as the Examiner reports, and a resolution to approve the settlement was raised but not yet voted on by the SF Board of Supervisors last week.
The case recalls the equally tragic case of Lynne Spaulding, a patient at SF General who similarly went missing in 2013 and was found dead in a locked stairwell. Spaulding's family received $3 million in that settlement — the only difference apparently being that Spaulding was a patient at the hospital, and Anderson was considered a "resident" of the adult care facility.
You would think the Sheriff's Department, which has jurisdiction over the hospital, would have learned to search all the stairwells after a tragedy like that. But apparently not.