Doing the Right Thing and Knowing Policies

We got this shocking story from Bakersfield, California about a nurse who refused to give a patient CPR after she collapsed in front of her.
Lorraine Bayless, 87 years old, was a resident of the Independent Living Community (ILC). She collapsed after dinner and was barely breathing. A self-identified nurse at the facility had called 911 to give the woman assistance, but then refused to administer CPR, because the policy at the facility is to ONLY call 911 and then wait for other medical assistance to arrive.
The 911 operator pleaded with the nurse to apply CPR during the call, but the nurse refused, citing policy restrictions. When the operator attempted to have her not let the woman die, her reply was “There is no one here at this time.”  Tragically, the resident died.
Sadly, the story is even more tragic. Had Lorraine Bayless had family visiting her at the time of her collapse, they could have administered the CPR. If she had been outside the facility, a passerby could have helped her. Being inside the ILC, surrounded by qualified medical personnel was a greater detriment to her taking her chances on the outside.
Whether the nurse was following rules or whether she was worried about legal ramifications, it shows a growing trend in the medical practice around the country. Because we live in such a litigious society, people have begun to hide behind written policies over doing what is right. If a long term care facility is afraid of doing what is right because they fear a potential lawsuit, shame on society. However, there are ways of finding out if the facilities where your relatives stay have similar rules or if you can make advanced directives giving authority to help them in a time of crisis. Knowing the policies of the facility can be a matter of life and death.
If you are concerned about a similar circumstance, please feel free to contact us at the Kabb Law Firm, 216.991.KABB (5222).  We’re here to help and point you in the right direction.