No CPR For You

soupnaziForgive me for the Seinfeld reference…..

I enjoy following the news of my hometown. It’s nice to keep on the politics and to see what my good friends in public safety have been up to since I left. Unfortunately my little moments of nostalgia are sometimes interrupted by little gems like this:

A Kern 9-1-1 dispatcher begged a nurse to attempt CPR on an elderly resident of one of Bakersfield’s most prestigious retirement communities, but the nurse refused, according a recording released Friday. “Is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?” the dispatcher asked. “Not at this time,” the nurse responded. The patient died.

Dramatic 911 tape reveals dispatcher’s fight to save patient

Having dispatcher-led CPR refused isn’t news. I respond to calls all the time where the caller refuses to attempt CPR. This isn’t limited to public places. I have seen family members flat refuse to help, but that’s another story for another time. What bothers me about this story isn’t the fact that the employee refused to comply with the dispatcher. She was only following policy. My issue is that the facility not only doesn’t train their employees in CPR, but they flat out prohibit them from even attempting it? If this is an “independent living facility” that doesn’t handle medical affairs, then why did they have a nurse on staff?

I can somewhat understand not training employees in CPR due to cost and I emphasize the word “somewhat”. There are grant programs out there for CPR training and I’m fairly certain that Good Samaritan laws would protect lay-rescuers in these types of situations. I just can’t wrap my head around prohibiting employees from even attempting CPR.

I’m going to refrain from criticizing the actions of the staff at the patient’s side. I wasn’t there and I don’t know for sure if the patient had a pulse, or any signs of life. I’m limited by the information that the media provides and we all know how mainstream news organizations never leave out important details.

In my years in healthcare and EMS, I have seen people refuse CPR for many reasons, but this is the first time I have ever seen it refused due to policy. Has anyone else come across a scenario like this? Is anyone familiar with policies like this and why they are implemented?

I hope that this isn’t common practice with independent living facilities. If it is, I certainly hope that this story sparks some positive change in the industry.




No CPR For You — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: No CPR allowed! | ouremssite

  2. Apparently there’s not much to the story. The patient was DNR and the family was on board.

    From my experience when my mother lived in an assisted living facility, the nurses are there to protect the interests of the facility, not the patients. They mostly seem to be there to have a record of meds, PMH, allergies, etc.

    Assisted living facilities are not SNFs. In my state people who need that level of service have to go to a SNF. The assisted in assisted living, is with Activities of Daily Living, not medical issues.

    But it made a good story on the Interwebz.

  3. As a lay person who has been certified to do CPR since 7th grade, I still find this story sad. I won’t attack the “nurse” for her actions for following the policy. I’m sad because a company would put it in a policy. When I worked at summer camps throughout college, we all had to be certified. While the scope of “medical services” camp counselors could provide the kids was limited (i.e. band-aid, water, popsicle) , we were told that we were covered under Good Samaritan laws in our state if we needed to provide CPR or basic first aid (as long as we were practicing skills we were certified to do.) Does California have Good Samaritan laws that would have protected someone at the facility if they did CPR?

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