A British woman whose body was found in a hospital stairwell in America over a fortnight after she went missing died because of chronic alcohol abuse, a coroner has confirmed.
Lynne Spalding disappeared from her room at San Francisco General Hospital on 21 September 2013 after she was admitted on 19 September for a bladder and urinary tract infection.
The mother-of-two was reported missing from her room two days later, and was found 17 days later in a locked stairwell by a member of the hospital’s staff.
She had been dead for days when she was discovered.
San Francisco assistant medical examiner Ellen Moffat said in a new report that the 57-year-old most likely died of a chemical imbalance due to complications from chronic alcohol abuse.
The report also states that Ms Spalding was confused and delirious on the day she disappeared, not aware of what day it was or why she was in hospital.
Ms Spalding's friends and relatives spent days scouring the streets of San Francisco with flyers because they were thought that the hospital had been searched.
Several employees with the city sheriff's department, which provides hospital security, were reassigned after Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi acknowledged that a thorough search for Ms Spalding was never conducted.
Earlier this year, the San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee, announced an independent investigation into the hospital's security and patient safety protocols.
“A thorough independent review is required, and we will do that,” Mr Lee said. “The city is responsible for what happened here.”
Ms Spalding was originally from Peterlee, County Durham but had lived in the US for 23 years.
Speaking after her discovery, family spokesman David Perry said: “Her loss will be felt greatly, not only in her family but across San Francisco because everyone knew Lynne Spalding here.”