Doctors at NY Hospital Mistakenly Declare Man Dead, Refuse Treatment

Dawn Snyder | October 21st, 2015

Medical Malpractice lawsuit

An Amherst woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against an emergency room doctor who pronounced her husband dead because he trivialized her claims that he was alive. The lawsuit alleges that if the doctor had not, for over two hours, brushed off the family’s claims that he was breathing and moving, he may have ultimately survived. Instead, the man leaves behind a widow, a son and stepchildren who have suffered an emotional rollercoaster.

Wife pleaded with ER staff to check vital signs

Michael Cleveland, 46, was admitted to the emergency room at DeGraff Memorial Hospital on October 10, 2014, after suffering an apparent heart attack at a grocery store. The emergency room doctor, Dr. Gregory Perry, pronounced him dead just minutes after he arrived. When wife Tammy arrived, she was told that the doctor worked on him for over an hour but could not restart his heart and that her husband had passed away.

Expecting to find her husband lifeless, Tammy noticed that Michael was breathing, turning his eyes in response to her, and even moved his limbs in an attempt to hug her. Other family members who visited expected to find a grieving widow but instead noticed condensation in Michael’s breathing tube. The family tried over and over to convince medical staff to check Michael but they were repeatedly rebuffed. Perry dismissed the signs of life as normal, explaining that Michael had a lot of life to expel out of his body because he was only 46.

Doctors find pulse hours after declaring man dead

Cleveland claims that it wasn’t until two and half hours later when the coroner came to take her husband to the morgue that anyone listened to her. She says that when the coroner noticed Michael’s arm, leg and mouth move, he left to get a doctor. When the doctor finally checked Michael with a stethoscope, he declared, “my god, he’s got a pulse.”

Michael was transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center early the next day and at 10:48 a.m. was once again pronounced dead. He reportedly did not die from the heart attack but from the rescue attempt – a bystander at the scene performed CPR, breaking several of Michael’s ribs and leading to a punctured lung. He ultimately succumbed to respiratory distress after his treatment was delayed by the allegedly reckless negligence of the hospital staff.

Widow seeks accountability from hospital doctors

Cleveland’s hospital malpractice lawsuit names as defendants Dr. Perry, another doctor at the second emergency room where he was treated, and both of the Buffalo-area hospitals. She explains that the purpose of the lawsuit is not money but to hold the medical professionals accountable. What she wants is for Dr. Perry, who had only been licensed for 15 months at the time he treated Michael Cleveland, to admit that he made a mistake and make sure something like that does not happen to someone else.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury at the hands of a negligent doctor or health care provider, call The Sanders Firm to discuss your legal rights to compensation. To schedule a free consultation with experienced medical malpractice attorneys in New York, please call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.


  1. WGRZ.com, Widow Files Medical Malpractice Suit After Husband Dies Twice, http://www.wgrz.com/story/news/local/buffalo/2015/10/14/widow-files-medical-malpractice-suit-after-husband-dies-twice/73851104/

  2. Washington Post, A doctor allegedly declared Michael Cleveland dead. His wife knew better but nobody listened., http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/14/a-doctor-declared-michael-cleveland-dead-his-wife-knew-better-but-nobody-listened/