The body of woman has been discovered on a stairway at a San Francisco hospital where a British patient went missing more than two weeks ago.
It is feared it was Lynne Spalding, 57, who was being treated for an infection at the hospital when she disappeared from her room on September 21.
Police, coroner and sheriff's officials were investigating the death at San Francisco General Hospital after a worker found the body in the exterior stairwell that is used as a fire exit, a hospital spokeswoman said.
"It's very concerning," she said. "We're distressed and don't know what happened. It's our top priority to find out."
Ms Spalding was last seen two days after she was admitted to the hospital. Friends said she was very thin and frail, was on medication and probably very confused. A missing persons report was filed with police, who have been investigating her disappearance.
David Perry, a spokesman for Spalding's family, said he found the discovery disturbing.
"What is happening here today is very distressing, and although we hope that our friend and our colleague Lynne Spalding will come back to us alive and healthy, we're very concerned about this," he said.