Coroner Refuses to Pronounce Breathing, Moving Man Dead

'Dead people don't move'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2018 1:26 PM CST
Coroner Refuses to Pronounce Breathing, Moving Man Dead
Stock image   (Getty Images/pablohart)

For nearly three hours, New York emergency room doctor Gregory Perry ignored requests to re-check a heart attack victim, according to a malpractice lawsuit filed by the victim's wife. Niagara County coroner Joseph Mantione had been called to pronounce 46-year-old Michael Cleveland dead and was one of those trying to get Perry to reassess the situation, according to a recent deposition obtained by the Buffalo News. "Dead people don't move. He needs to go in there and check his pulse," Mantione says he told ER staff at DeGraff Memorial Hospital. He says he arrived to pronounce Cleveland dead only to find the patient with his eyes open and breathing. "It was something I hope to never see again," Mantione tells the News.

Tammy Cleveland is suing Perry and Kaleida Health for malpractice over the 2014 incident. "Michael Cleveland was a living, abandoned patient for two hours and 40 minutes," her attorney says. In addition to breathing, Mantione says Cleveland was also moving his arm. Mantione says he confronted ER staff about what was happening—"I was loud; I thought it was an emergency"—and refused to pronounce Cleveland dead despite Perry's assertion that "eventually the drugs will wear off and then he would stop." Mantione says Cleveland progressed to "thrashing," "screaming," and "trying to get up" while being held down on a gurney. At that point he was transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center, where he died. The case is scheduled to go to trial in April. Read the full story here. (More medical malpractice stories.)

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