Nursing home refuses CPR. woman dies.

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I heard this story on the way home tonight. Listening to this call gave me the chills.

Bakersfield, Calif. Police reviewing 911 call at center of CPR controversy

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.: Calif. woman dies after nurse refuses to do CPR | National | MyrtleBeachOnline.com

"911: she's gonna die if we don't get this started. Do you understand?"
"Glenwood Gardens: I understand. I am a nurse. But, I cannot have our other senior citizens who don't know CPR..."
"911: I will instruct them...is there any there who's willing..."
"Glenwood gardens: I cannot do that."

For more than seven minutes the dispatcher pleads with the nurse to find some way to help the woman.

"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?
Apparently this policy is spelled out to residents families as soon as they're admitted. They do not do CPR. It's telling that the daughter is fine with the nurse's action.

I understand the outrage, but CPR really isn't the miracle it's made out to be. It doesn't work the vast majority of the time and it's so violent--if you don't break ribs, you're doing it wrong. For an elderly women who probably has many health problems, why do it?

But then I'm someone who's made it very clear to everyone that I'm to be DNR under any and all circumstances, so that's where I'm coming from.
Eres o te haces?
I heard this story and yes its sad.

If CPR isn't done correctly, it can do other harm or break ribs and other things. Maybe the nurse did the right thing. Idk.

I also remember hearing in a first aid course, once you start, you have to continue until help arrives.
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My dad is a DNR. My grandma is a Christian Scientist, which means she's also a DNR. I think they both would be relieved if their home had a no-CPR policy. As their descendant, I'd be pretty angry if someone did CPR on either of them under the circumstances described in that story. I'm guessing that if I'm fortunate enough to live long enough to move into an assisted living complex, I would make sure there was a DNR on me as well.

The idea of doing CPR on an 87-year-old is pretty scary. It's amazing that the doctor in that story said she knew the risks but would still do it.
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yeah, CPR might not have saved her, but the call is sad.
If it is the nursing home's policy then I guess the nurse was doing her job from a business standpoint anyway. Many people are injured from CPR and I have heard cases about someone performing CPR to save someone else and then the person they saved later suing them for injuries sustained during the rescue. In some places you cannot just step in and perform CPR or even the Heimlich maneuver without liability if you don't first ask the person permission to do so. Of course someone in distress many not be able to give you permission.

From a personal standpoint, I don't think I could stand by and watch a person who needs help potentially die in front of me if I knew how to potentially help them. I have studied medicine and worked in hospitals and I know there are policies but as a human being it can be hard to live with. I guess everyone has to make those moral choices for themselves and do what they think is right.

If it were me who needed the help I would rather live with a broken rib for a while than not live. It may not save me but there is a chance that it would and I would take that chance and allow it. But again it is different for everyone and yes there is greater risk of injury for the elderly.
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Last edited by Ericachristina; 03-06-2013 at 10:55 PM.
Apparently this policy is spelled out to residents families as soon as they're admitted. They do not do CPR. It's telling that the daughter is fine with the nurse's action.

I understand the outrage, but CPR really isn't the miracle it's made out to be. It doesn't work the vast majority of the time and it's so violent--if you don't break ribs, you're doing it wrong. For an elderly women who probably has many health problems, why do it?

But then I'm someone who's made it very clear to everyone that I'm to be DNR under any and all circumstances, so that's where I'm coming from.
Originally Posted by legends
Then why even bother calling 911?
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Then why even bother calling 911?
Originally Posted by The New Black
That's a good question.
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It sounded on the phone like she was anxious for the ambulance to get there so I felt she did want someone to help the lady. Scary situation. The victim's family supports the nursing home fully so if they're ok with it..then who am I to judge?
My grandma had a heart attack at age 86 and someone who happened to be there when she collapsed gave her CPR. God bless him for doing it and I don't fault him in the least. However, all it did was keep her alive, in an almost vegetative state, for a week or two.She had a stroke during CPR and had no hope of recovery. CPR on an elderly woman is pretty violent.

I think the fact that the woman's daughter is okay with what happened speaks volumes.
When are women going to face the fact that they donít know their own bodies as well as men who have heard things?

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I dunno. It was an assisted living facility from what I've heard, which would lead me to believe that this person was in better health than a nursing home patient. If she'd had a DNR the nurse wouldn't have called 911.

Policy or not, I have to wonder what a nurse's ethical responsibly is as laid out in their nursing license.

I found the call disturbing partly because I didn't really hear much urgency in the nurse's voice when she called.


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I wish they would have waited a little while before putting this story all over the news. If CPR was not the policy of this facility, the nurse technically did nothing wrong. Yes, one would expect a nurse to do CPR, but as legends said, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

It is fact that CPR does not work the bast majority of the time and that you have to break bones to do it correctly. Also, 911 CPR instructions are a bit different. You are looking at over 300 chest compressions. It's a miracle if you can get someone to do 30. On a 85 year old... it can be incredibly dangerous in and of itself. Yes, it is the 911 centers policy to try to talk someone into doing CPR, but if a person refuses, they refuse. You can't really do anything about that. ETA: (while I have a few more min) I really did not care for the way the dispatcher spoke to the caller. Never would I say so you're gonna let them die!?!? That goes double when it comes to a situation with a family member. There are better ways to get your point across.

Facilities and residents do still call 911 when a patient has a DNR. Why, I don't know. They have to show the DNR to the emergency responders and then the ambulance just transports the patient somewhere else.
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Last edited by Fifi.G; 03-07-2013 at 05:27 AM.
Policy or not, I have to wonder what a nurse's ethical responsibly is as laid out in their nursing license.

I found the call disturbing partly because I didn't really hear much urgency in the nurse's voice when she called.
Originally Posted by Springcurl

It would be her main responsibility to follow the SOP's of her employer, and that doesn't mean she has to like or agree with it. Just follow it. I am sure this policy is something that is made very clear to the families and residents. The patients daughter being fine with the nurses decision tells me all I need to know.

The nurse wanting someone to get there quickly and help also tells me a lot. She wanted someone there who could do something. Given the nature of the facility, age and conditions of residents, and the policy I am sure the nurses are very used to losing residents. When you deal with situations like this for a living, you are not going to have urgency in your voice. Remaining calm and level headed during an emergency is a large part of your job.

You have to learn to let go.

* That and she had a dining room full of other residents to think about. You can't go into a panic. It can and will spread.
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Last edited by Fifi.G; 03-07-2013 at 06:43 AM.
are we sure this was even an actual registered nurse, or a nurse's aid? you know?

Isn't it usually nursing aids that work in senior communities. Not saying that would make a difference, but you can get that certificate in 10 weeks. She might not have been trained to actually know what to do at all and since it was in her job policy....well I lost my train of thought because I'm really itchy...
There is now doubt that

1) she was a nurse
2) that was actually the policy. The place said it was the policy but the parent company said that the home misunderstood and that wasn't the policy. It could just be a CYA move.
2) that was actually the policy. The place said it was the policy but the parent company said that the home misunderstood and that wasn't the policy. It could just be a CYA move.
Originally Posted by scrills
I would not doubt that it is.

I wonder if the EMD *board* will say anything to the dispatcher about the way she handled the call. They should. She was right to keep trying but her wording was horrible. I could not make someone feel responsible for a natural cause death. There are numerous reasons why people can not do CPR. The patient may be too large for them to move, they may be elderly and injured and unable to properly preform it. It may go agains beliefs. It may be policy that they don't...

All relevant. You can keep trying, without placing blame, no matter who they are.
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Last edited by Fifi.G; 03-07-2013 at 10:02 AM.
It wasn't a nursing home or assisted living. It was independent Living, essentially senior housing. The real issue isn't the facilities policy but the staff person (not sure it was a nurse or an aide, but heard it was an RN who was the resident services coordinator or something) and her choice to follow facility policy over professional ethics.

I couldn't work in a place that wanted me to put myself at risk like that.
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We had long debates about job abandonment and patient abandonment in school. And the latter is always worse.
I wouldn't doubt a senior Living facility having a policy like that, but if you're an RN or LPN in most situations where you don't know someone's final wishes you're a fool not to act.

Also my understanding is nurses and doctors are for the most part held to a higher standard and are not protected by good samaritan laws.

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Policy or not, I'd rather get fired for trying to save someone's life than to stand there and watch them die!

Come on people, imagine if that were your mother or grandmother? I'm a stranger to that woman it it brought tears to my eyes.

I just hope that if I'm ever in a terrible accident, they don't have any policies against helping someone who's dying.
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Last edited by sheilacurl; 03-08-2013 at 08:11 AM.
Also my understanding is nurses and doctors are for the most part held to a higher standard and are not protected by good samaritan laws.
Originally Posted by curlyarca
From what I know specifics in GSL's vary from state to state, but one common is that any emergency service worker (doctors to ems and first responders) receiving compensation/on duty are not protected.
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