I believe the study that your friend was referring to is an ongoing
research project conducted by Dr. Peter Fenwick and Dr. Sam Parnia, of
Southampton General Hospital, in England. Here is an excerpt from an
article about the study:
"Parnia and his colleague, Dr Peter Fenwick, a consultant
neurophysiologist at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, reason that if
the patient really is having an out-of-body experience, this should be
testable. First, a person floating above their body should be able to
describe events that they can see while they are clinically dead that
can be corroborated later. Secondly, the patient has a unique view of
the hospital bed and could see objects that other people cannot.
Parnia has placed cards on the top of wardrobes, or hanging from the
ceiling, in cardiac wards - a pink dog, for instance. 'These are not
things the patient or the staff would associate with a hospital; they
cannot see them and they do not know they are there,' he says... If we
have someone who leaves their body, is able to identify the card we
have left and report about events that happened in the resuscitation
theatre which they could not have known about, then we would have to
ask some serious questions about the science of consciousness,'
Here is another description of the aspect of the study dealing with
"Parnia and his coworkers had prepared to test any such reports by
suspending special boards from the ceiling of the wards before the
commencement of the study. These boards had special figures on the
surface facing the ceilings that were not visible from below. If
anyone claimed to have left his or her body and be near the ceiling he
would be expected to be able to identify the markings if he had indeed
been out-of-body. If the perception were psychological in origin then
one would not expect the markings to be identified."
And one more description:
"Now Fenwick and Parnia hope to add new near-death-experience and
out-of-body-experience research to these findings. If they can raise
the cash, they intend to study 100 reanimated heart-attack victims who
had near-death experiences. Research has shown that 30 of them can be
expected to have out-of-body experiences. Fenwick and Parnia plan to
place cards above the patients' heads that can only be seen from the
ceiling, where those who experience out-of-body experiences claim to
watch their resuscitation."
Here is the full text of the study, as published in the medical
Note: The file linked above is in .pdf format. You need to have Adobe
Acrobat reader software installed on your computer in order to view
.pdf files properly. If you do not already have this software, a free
download is available here:
Here are additional links to articles about Dr. Parnia and his study
of near-death experiences:
Diamond Way Buddhism
This Is Hampshire
Associated Press Television News
Dr. Sam Parnia founded an organization called the Horizon Research
Foundation for the study of near-death experiences. Although Horizon
Research Foundation's Web site seems to be down at this time, I found
several archived pages from it, with the assistance of the Internet
Wayback Machine. (Note that sometimes these archives take a long time
Internet Archive: Horizon Research Foundation
In addition to the Southamptin study, there is a similar experiment
being conducted by Dr. Bruce Greyson, of the University of Virginia:
"In experiments under way, he said, tiny signs were placed on the
ceilings of hospital rooms, so that if people were genuinely having
out-of-body experiences and hovering over their beds, they would be
able to see the signs and provide "proof" of the phenomenon... It may
take a long time for such experiments to uncover a case, he and others
said, because not all patients will be resuscitated in that room and
not all cardiac arrest cases result in near-death experiences, but it
could provide evidence to buttress patients' reports."
As these studies continue, we can expect more data regarding the
results of the aspect of the experiment dealing with the ceiling-level
signs, and whether any patients can accurately describe what was
written on them. In my research, I could not find any conclusive
report of this having happened yet, but the studies are ongoing, and
there will certainly be much media attention as soon as a patient
comes back from an OBE with conclusive proof of having been near the
ceiling of the room. Every news source in the world will want to cover
this story, as soon as positive results are in.
My Google search strategy:
"out of body experiences" + "hospital" + "signs"
"sam parnia" + "southampton" + "hospital"
"horizon research foundation"
"out of body experiences" + "bruce greyson"
I hope I've provided the kind of information you're looking for. If
anything is not clear, or if anything more is needed, please request
clarification before rating my answer, and I'll gladly offer further