An inquiry has begun into the death at Withington Hospital, Manchester, last Friday. Medical staff in the lift with Frank Cummings, 64, of Withington, who was on a trolley, fought to keep him alive while workmen battled to bring the lift down.
They eventually got the lift working again and Mr Cummings - who was suffering from internal bleeding after a routine hernia operation - was taken to theatre where he died about 30 minutes after surgery began.
Mr Cummings was recovering in a normal ward from his hernia repair when he suddenly developed bleeding in another part of his body.
'The patient, who required emergency surgery, was in the process of being taken to theatre in a lift which became trapped between two floors,' a hospital spokesman said last night.
'Every attempt was made to release him, but unfortunately it was some 40 minutes later that exit was achieved.'
The spokesman added: 'The hospital has conveyed its deepest sympathy to the relatives of the patient. The lift becoming stuck like this was one of our worst nightmares - a one in a million chance. This incident was also upsetting for the hospital staff involved. A full investigation is taking place. The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.'
Mr Cummings's family was too upset to talk about the incident. The Manchester city coroner has ruled out an inquest because death was due to natural causes.