SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 7, 2013

Nurse denies pleas 4 help


Woman dies after nurse won’t do CPR

By Gosia Wozniacka and Tracie Cone ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A nurse’s refusal to give CPR to a dying 87-year-old woman at a California independent-living home despite desperate pleas from a 911 dispatcher has prompted outrage and spawned a criminal investigation.

The 7-minute, 16-second call also raised concern that policies at senior living facilities could prevent staff members from intervening in medical emergencies. It prompted calls for legislation yesterday to prevent a repeat of what happened on Feb. 26 at the Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield.

  • Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room of the retirement home that offers many levels of care. She lived in the independent-living building that doesn’t operate under licensing oversight.

“This is a wakeup call,” said Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, chair of the California Assembly Aging and Long-term Care Committee. “I’m sorry it took a tragedy like this to bring it to our attention.”

  • Independent-living facilities “should not have a policy that says you can stand there and watch somebody die,” said Pat McGinnis, founder of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a consumer advocacy group. “How a nurse can do that is beyond comprehension.”

State officials did not know yesterday whether the woman who talked to 911 dispatcher Tracey Halvorson actually was a nurse, or just identified herself as one. The nurse said one of the home’s policies prevented her from doing CPR, according to the recording.

  • “The consensus is if they are a nurse and if they are at work as a nurse, then they should be offering the appropriate medical care,” said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the California Board of Registered Nursing.

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse, saying she followed the facility’s policy to wait with the individual until emergency personnel arrive. Toomer offered condolences to the woman’s family.

When they arrived, firefighters performed CPR, continuing until she reached the hospital. Dr. Patricia Harris, who heads the University of Southern California’s geriatrics division, said the survival odds are slim among elderly who receive CPR.

But staff members are “required to perform and provide CPR” unless there’s a do-not-resuscitate order, said Greg Crist, a senior vice president at the American Health Care Association. Bayless did not have such an order on file.

On the call, Halvorson tried to persuade the nurse, even asking, “Is there a gardener? … Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady?”

( I am as stunned as anyone else who hears about this dereliction of duty.  Jan)


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