SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) _ An 87-year-old patient at a boarding home was mistaken for dead and turned over to a funeral home, where she startled a mortician preparing to embalm her.

Carrie Stringfellow was listed in fair condition Monday night at Mercy Medical Center, said spokeswoman Vicky Forrest.

Dennis L. Porter, director of the Dennis L. Porter Funeral Home, said he was called to a nearby boarding home Saturday evening to pick up a body.

When he returned, Porter said, he started to take the woman off the ''death cot'' and move her onto the embalming table when ''she made a noise - uttered something.''

''That drew my attention,'' Porter said. ''It was quite shocking.''

The mortician said he then discovered that woman's eyes were fluttering and she had a faint pulse. He called an an emergency squad, which took the woman to the hospital.

Ms. Forrest said Ms. Stringfellow was not lucid Monday and could not receive visitors or answer questions. She said Ms. Stringfellow was unaware of what had happened.

The hospital has asked the state ombudsman's office to investigate the circumstances that preceded the woman's admission to the hospital, Ms. Forrest said.

Porter said Ms. Stringfellow had not been examined by doctor before she was turned over to him. Doctors are not required to make such examinations if death appears to be from natural causes, he said.

''Doctors don't go around examining a body every time a person dies,'' Porter said. ''She did appear to be dead. This appeared to be from natural causes. ... If I thought there had been foul play, I would have called the coroner.''

The operator of the boarding home, Robbie Caldwell, refused to comment Monday.