A man was found dead on a couch in a hospital lounge, and a nurse told police that nobody had checked on him for at least 17 hours because he appeared to be asleep.

Robert F. Johnson, 55, who had emphysema (search), was found Thursday at Southwest General Health Center (search), police said. It was not clear when he died; an autopsy was planned.

Police Chief John Maddox said Johnson probably had been dead for several hours and most likely died of natural causes.

"It's just unbelievable," his wife, Robin Johnson, said Friday. "Somebody out at the hospital didn't notice that a man was laying there for such a long period of time and not moving? Why didn't anybody check?"

A hospital spokeswoman, Kelly Stanford, declined to comment on the death. "It's an unfortunate situation, but we're cooperating fully with all levels of investigation," Stanford said.

Nurse Lynette Chihil discovered Thursday morning that Johnson was dead. She told police that Johnson, who was fully dressed and curled with his face buried in a cushion, was discolored and cold, and that she had seen him on the same couch 17 hours earlier. Another nurse said she saw a man reclining on the couch late Wednesday.

Robin Johnson said she had not seen her husband since he left home Monday morning after an argument. Police believe he camped out at the hospital rather than return home.