An elderly woman living at a retirement home in Bakersfield, California died after a nurse at the facility refused to administer CPR to save her. A new video has been released with portions of the 911 call during which dispatchers plead with the nurse to save the woman’s life.
During the call, the nurse said it was against the facility’s policy.
“Is there anybody there that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?” the dispatcher asked.
“Not at this time,” the nurse said.
The incident happened on Tuesday when 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed at Glenwood Gardens. The dispatcher can be heard begging the nurse to perform CPR, sounding desperate as the moments wore on.
“Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone please. I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to that passerby,” the dispatcher said. “This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started.”
Several minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took Bayless to Mercy Southwest Hospital, where she later died.
Glenwood Gardens has released a statement conforming its policy prohibiting employees from performing CPR.
“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives. That is the protocol we followed,” the facility said.
See the video here.
California-based bioethics attorney Wesley Smith, who is pro-life, commented on the case.
This seems like a real scandal, but it needs a little unpacking. Sounds utterly damning. But a word of caution: The woman might have signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. If so, the proper course is to comfort the patient but not try to revive–and, by the way, not call 911. But that does not seem to be the case here:
Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, issued a statement on behalf of the facility, extending his sympathies to the Bayless family. But Toomer also defended the nurse, saying she followed policy. “In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” he said. “That is the protocol we followed. As with any incident involving a resident, we will conduct a thorough internal review of this matter, but we have no further comments at this time.”
Perhaps the facility feared a lawsuit if CPR was done inexpertly. But a “blanket” do not resuscitate policy regardless of the circumstances or patient? Big trouble on the way. I think it would be worth knowing if this kind of policy is ubiquitous within the industry.