Investigation launched after 'woman in vegetative state for 14 years gives birth'

Police in Arizona have launched an investigation amid reports a woman who has been in a vegetative state for 14 years gave birth.

The victim - who is said to have been a patient at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix following a near-drowning incident - reportedly gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Saturday, December 29.

Local television station KPHO reported that staff at the facility were unaware that the woman was pregnant "until she was about to give birth" and began "moaning", according to a source who wished to remain anonymous.

The victim is said to have required round-the-clock care, with many people requiring access to her room.

Phoenix Police said the "matter is currently under investigation", but offered no more information.

Practices at Hacienda HealthCare are said to have changed in the wake of the reported birth, with male staff said to have to be accompanied by a female employee when entering a woman's room.

In a statement released to local media, Hacienda HealthCare said it "has an outstanding reputation providing high quality specialised care for our patients".

The spokesperson said that individual patients could not be commented on due to privacy laws, and could the company comment on an ongoing investigation.

"We can say that our patients' and clients' health and safety is our number one priority and that we always cooperate, when asked by any agency, in an open and transparent way," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) said it was "aware of the situation and are actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation".

"Upon learning of the allegation, ADHS immediately initiated an onsite complaint investigation to ensure the health and safety of the patients and ensure the facility is in compliance with all state laws and regulations.

"During this time, the agency has required heightened safety measures be implemented at the facility including increased staff presence during patient interactions, increased monitoring of the patient care areas, and increased security measures with respect to visitors at the facility."

The Arizona Department of Economic Security added it too is working with Phoenix Police, and that "upon hearing of these allegations... we immediately dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks on all members residing at this health care facility, which has been completed.

"We will continue to work to ensure the safety of all our members."

Hacienda HealthCare is privately owned and has more than 40 Phoenix-based health care programs that serve 2,500 people a year, according to its website.

A majority of its patients are infants, children, teens and young adults.