Nurse refuses CPR on nursing home resident

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - A nurse at a California nursing home called 911 after a patient collapsed but refused to give the dying woman what could have been life-saving CPR.

It's a tough call to listen to, 7 minutes 16 seconds long.

The dispatcher in southern California is frustrated, knowing every minute lost is the difference between life and death.

The nurse stands firm and refuses to intervene as an elderly woman dies on her watch.

Lorraine Bayless, 87, collapsed in the dining room of an independent living facility in Bakersfield, Calif. She was unconscious and barely breathing when a nurse called 911.

911: "We need to get CPR started that's not enough, OK? Um, let me..."

GLENWOOD GARDENS NURSE: "Yeah, we can't do CPR at this facility."

911: "Ok, then hand the phone ... hand the phone to the passerby If you can't do it. I need ... hand it to the passerby. I'll have her do it."

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, said it is against policy to administer CPR, stating "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 call continued:

911: "Is there a gardener ... any staff? Anybody that's doesn't work for you, anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street? And get them to help this lady? as a human being I don't ... you know ... is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

GLENWOOD GARDENS NURSE: "Um, not at this time."

The President of the Assisted Living Federation of America, Richard P. Grimes,

said, "To my knowledge, no independent living community has a policy that prohibits any individual from administering CPR under the guidance of a trained professional such as a 911 operator.  Since independent living communities are not health care facilities, they generally do not have individuals trained in CPR. It is more typically the protocol and practice, in the rare emergency situation requiring medical assistance, for the staff to call 911 and await the arrival of professionals."

Grimes explained that independent living facilities are for seniors who require little or no assistance.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services has a wide range of licensing standards for assisted living facilities. It states training should include basic first aid and fall prevention. CPR is only required for direct care staff.

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