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Inquiry finds Dartmouth-Hitchcock patient died of natural causes


Staff report
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

LEBANON — New Hampshire’s medical examiner has determined that a Vermont woman whose death at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in January was initially considered to be suspicious in fact died of natural causes.

East Corinth resident Susan Massey, 67, was receiving treatment at DHMC when she died on Jan. 27, according to a news release issued on Tuesday by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. Following Massey’s death, Lebanon police, the Attorney General’s Office and New Hampshire State Police were notified, and police went to the hospital.

“It is not unusual for each agency to regularly receive reports of witnessed or unattended deaths that cannot quickly and easily be identified as a natural, accidental, or suicidal death,” the release said. “In this matter, the agencies were initially informed that there were concerns about the circumstances of Ms. Massey’s death, and an investigation ensued.”

Though authorities notified the public in January of what was then described as a “suspicious” death, they said at the time that there was no danger to the public and that they could not release the deceased’s name out of privacy concerns.

The news release on Tuesday said that Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie V. Duval has now determined that Massey’s death was “the result of complications of disease, and that her manner of death was natural.”

Family members reached by phone on Tuesday declined to comment.

“We’re relieved for the family that the Attorney General’s investigation has concluded with the results they’ve shared in today’s statement,” Dartmouth-Hitchcock spokesman Rick Adams wrote in an email Tuesday.

He directed questions about the investigation to the Attorney General’s Office.

Kate Spiner of the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment when asked what initially had raised concerns about Massey’s death.