“Metabolism mimics death”

Publié le 30 Jan, 2018

A Spanish detainee woke up in the mortuary several hours after being pronounced dead by two doctors in succession.


It’s “not the first time” that such stories have been brought to our attention by the media. According to Christophe Prudhomme, the spokesman for the Association of Emergency Physicians, “This is a phenomenon that has existed since time immemorial. People are brought to the mortuary but are actually still alive“. This is caused by a metabolism that can “mimic death“. The individual in question does not respond to stimuli, the body is cold and in a state of hypothermia, and the pulse is non-existent. In cases of catalepsy, for instance, the muscles harden, immobilising the person “who then stays in the same position for several hours“.


Christophe Prudhomme recognised that it can also be a case of human error since “not all the precise technical methods to detect a pulse as weak as it can be” were employed. In cases where electrocardiography is used, “you may see a flat line on the screen for 15 seconds and miss the pulse peak if you’re not careful“. This is a situation that generally occurs “a few hours after death“. 

Le Parisien, Zoé Lauwereys (11/01/2018)

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