Bakersfield nurse refuses CPR, elderly patient dies

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by KTMom91, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I saw that on the news yesterday....

    I understand that the nurse was not allowed to touch the senior due to liability issues - but yikes! To just sit there and let somebody die right in front of you? I couldn't do it...
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    And the point of having a nurse on staff is???
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I wonder what prompted a policy like that. Could you live with yourself following that policy? I get it that things can go wrong in CPR but usually there's a good samaritan law. I'd rather the policy be if someone tries lifesaving CPR I agree to not hold them liable for any reason. And the facility should have CPR supplies and a defibrilator. Wonder if teams from the skilled center could be called.

    I.feel for that nurse. She's going to have some soul searching to do. She was following policy. But there are many in history who say that.
  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Are you kidding? Lawsuits!

    Medical professionals (and non-medical people working in medical environments) have to bo SO careful of anything they say, do, or touch. Companies don't want to be liable for anything these days.
  6. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Has anyone heard what kind of nurse this was? The reason I ask is that from every account I have heard and seen they have yet to state anything other than nurse and haven't provided any proof as to why they call her a nurse. Not that all employees shouldn't have been trained and that even without training could have tried to help at least.

    I wonder if this woman who called was simply an employ? She could be a desk worker for all we know, if she was she isn't making diddly squat for money and probably was just following policy in order to keep her job. It was an independent living facility not a "nursing home" and most of those facilities are staffed with people who are needed to assist with meals and activities not health care. They generally have no medical knowledge unless they have been trained by the facility in CPR. Honestly they are glorified "friends" to the people who live there. They often dont even handle medications since people who live in independent living are basically just old and need a community not health care.

    On the other hand that policy is just ridiculous! I understand liability but ****! They should be able to provide basic life saving measures as instructed by the 911 operator until the EMS arrives. That would cover them in a liability issue. They would simply be performing as instructed by a professional until help arrives.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Lawsuits prompt that sort of policy.

    And there will be no lawsuit because residents will have been informed this is policy when they chose to live there. I'm sure paperwork was signed to this effect.

    Maybe it is because I've worked on the medical side, dunno, but actually the 911 operator aggravated me. She was NOT helping in that situation. She was losing her cool.....and well, not being professional. I can understand her point, but still. I can also understand that nurses' position as well.

    And no one knows if this elderly woman had a DNR in place or not. Many elderly choose these facilities because they do NOT want resuscitated.

    Now nurse is going to be made out to be the villain in this when she was following policy. Not following policy could not only cost her her job but *might* cost her her license as well. Of course when the news is shooting for ratings and sensationalism they never consider those things.

    Ticks me off.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I wondered a couple things when I read this article. First was about the Good Samaritan Laws in CA. Good Sam laws state that if you render aid to a person in an emergency situation, then you cannot be held liable for civil charges. Seems back in 2008 the CA courts said rendering medical aid was covered and non-medical aid was not. CA state legislators fixed this quickly.

    I looked this up because when i was a manager in OH I learned all about their bizarre laws on this topic, like the one that lets the person who's life you saved with CPR or the heimlich sue you for any/all damaged caused by those things. CPR often breaks or bruises ribs, and other things can also happen..

    I think corporate was attempting to make sure they cannot be sued with this policy. I also think it is designed to drive residents to the more expensive areas of the facility like the assisted living side. I hope that MANY people move their loved ones to safer residences. The family should also sue the company because this is pretty much neglect.

    While most people do not have a duty to act in an emergency like this, the same isn't generally true for those in the medical field, esp doctors and nurses. They have a duty to save lives when possible and appropriate. By appropriate I mean if the person has a do not resuscitate order or a living will preventing things like CPR. It likely may be that she could face criminal charges for not even attempting to do CPR. It is also possible that she could face problems with the licensing board even if the state laws do not provide for civil or criminal liability.

    I feel very bad for the woman. It is hard to watch anyone die, and it must be awful to see someone in such pain and fear and feel you cannot use your training to help them. This will likely take a HUGE toll on her life.

    I can understand the fear of losing a job because you violated policy on a recording, but I just can't see letting someone die over it. But that is me.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I have no clue the laws in CA. To me that is a state with some pretty "out there" laws to put it mildly.

    Unless media hype plays a role, I don't know that the family would win a suit against the facility. You can bet your bottom dollar the resident was well informed of policy and signed contracts stating as such. And the facility DID call 911 to assist the resident. So......they're rear is probably covered ten ways from sunday.

    I do worry about the nurse, though. That had to be the hardest thing in the world.......unless there was a DNR in place (even then sometimes it is difficult). From the recording I heard it sounded as if her boss was either right there or nearby as she was trying to get the operator to talk to him. (most likely to talk some sense into him)

    What irked me was 911 operator started making judgments based on little or no facts, unprofessional. (although we only heard part of the call so can only judge so much) She was allowing herself to become emotional......ect which is not allowed.

    mother in law's aunt lived in such a facility with the same policy. She accepted the policy, it was the main reason she chose the facility. She lived in a little condo like apartment and staff (generally a nurse) came to check her and give her medications or make sure she took them. That is ALL they were allowed to do. The reason was liability. These are supposed to be elderly would can still live independently and care for themselves. When mother in law's aunt had her stroke, all staff could do is call an ambulance and transport to the hospital which was half a block away. They were to "keep her safe" until the ambulance arrived but no CPR ect. (the aunt had a DNR anyway so......moot point in her case)

    We don't have background on this. Could be resident was positioned in such a way as to aid her breathing as much as possible without doing CPR. (most likely was) Since this was independent living there would be no resuscitation equipment in the apartment/ most likely nurse didn't have so much as a plastic airway to work with.

    I would've at least had to try, unless a DNR order was there. But then I can't stand to see my patients even be uncomfortable. I would not want to be that nurse for a million dollars. I feel for her, she was placed in a no win situation.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I get it that it is lawsuit driven, but I was meaning what specifically .... that theyd injure? That they'd miss a dnr order? It's just amazing even though common, that we value money more than life.

    My mom lives in senior housing. Some there have nursing services but it's not thru the apts. They do offer an "I'm ok" sign to put out daily. An office worker checks.

    Still, there's a first aid kit and automatic defibrilator there.

    I just worry about those who have to face execution of such a policy. Until it really happens, it must not seem real. But living with that decision has to be awful.

    If she had a dnr and staff new, they probably would have said so, I would shut the 911 person up. But without that knowledge I can see how the 911 started to act unprofessional. Both were in an awful position.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would think anyone working in a facility like that would have to have CPR training. We had to have it just to work at DSS.

    From what I understand, you cant be sued, especially as a person working in a facility like that, for attempting to give CPR and I would think having the 911 operator on the line would give more legal protection to someone doing the CPR. If you do the CPR and it works and something happens to get broken or hurt on the patient, thats all to the good. If you attempt CPR and the patient still dies, that is sad. If you sit there and do nothing...I dont know how you can defend that.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    No doubt it is a complex situation. on the other hand I replaced my husband on the Medical Directive because I just know he would not follow my wishes. Perhaps I should have spent more time considering the feelings of the nurses when faced with a DNA but really the patient is the one who should be in charge of their health choices. I had a grandson who lived as a vegetable from the age of 18 months until he turned 24. The hospital gave the option of letting him go as a toddler but his Mom wanted him to live for as long as possible and his Dad (my son) didn't want to upset his wife. So for over twenty years he lived in a facility (Thank God I found a marvelous facility where the people really were unbelievably efficient and kind.) with no brain function, no ability to move, no sight in either eye etc. etc. There are surely two sides to every story and often the choice is made in a matter of minutes that determines the entire future. It's sad but I imagine the patient's wishes were met.DDD
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Arrgh. I just typed a long response and it disappeared.
    I posted this as a question on my FB page. I see that Hound Dog has weighed in.
    This makes me wonder about the policy at P's place. I will ask; it's always good to have a refresher.
    I wonder if the news media heard it on the police radio, or how they found out?
    Personally, if I were the nurse, I would feel better if the woman had died of a heart attack or stroke than choking on food, in regard to my conscience.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    You would not believe the number of lawsuits that come from doing CPR on a person. Good Samaritan Laws or not. Medical facility or not. It is truly unreal.

    My eldest sis had CPR done on her. She was furious afterward. If CPR is done correctly, there will most likely be injury to the person. Sounds odd, but it's difficult to get and sustain enough pressure to actually get that heart "beating". The public isn't aware of this, so it takes them off guard. They assume if they incur an injury that the person doing CPR must've performed it wrong.....and sue. Or they sue because 99 times out of 100 cpr doesn't work. (depends on the situation) Sis is a nurse but even she didn't realize the impact having cpr done on you does to the body. Which is why she was furious. She was in pain for quite a long time while some ribs healed and deep bruising went away.

    People are sue happy. Some are justified, most aren't. That is why you get policies such as these. Even if the suit isn't won, it is costly to the facility.

    I wouldn't work for such a place myself.

    husband and I were witnesses to a horrific accident. I jumped out of the car to help. (I never think first, I react) The man had impacted the steering wheel so hard he snapped the seat belt (ripping it out of the floor) and completely broke the steering column. He was drowning in his own blood. Although one should never move an accident victim, had I not moved him.....he'd not have survived until the ambulance arrived. I positioned him carefully to enhance his ability to breathe without aspirating so much blood into his lungs. And I stood in that position, holding his head, for 15-20 mins waiting for that darn ambulance to show up. Once they arrived I stepped out of the picture.

    Sheriff needed witnesses for the accident report. Refused to take a statement by me because it would require my signature. It was his way of protecting me from being sued. Yes, it's really that bad. *sigh*

    Terri you are wise to check on the policy of where your aunt is. In the assisted living where mother in law stayed they were allowed and expected to do cpr on anyone without a DNR order on file. Each place is different.
  15. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    The NBC nightly news was just doing a story about this case, and the deceased woman's daughter, who happens to be a nurse, made a statement that she didn't think the end result would have been different even if her mom had been given cpr. She said she thought that the facility did the right thing.
    I guess nurses have a different perspective about this than most other people. I was appalled when I heard this story this morning, but when you see it from a nurse's perspective, it may have been more compassionate to "let the woman go."
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The problem the nurse faces is that she has a duty to her employer, but as a nurse she also has a duty set by the board that licenses her and often they can take your license for not doing all you can in a situation like that regardless of corporate policy. My godmother was a senior nursing supervisor for years in Cincy and she had fits with the licensing boards on behalf of some of the nurses when she worked iwth homebound patients or coordinating care with assisted living facilities. Sometimes the licensing board said that even with a DNR the nurse should have done CPR, etc.... and wanted to suspend, fine, or take other punitive measures.

    It is a tough situation to be in, and one of the hard things about working with the elderly.
  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    According to ABC World News with Diane Sawyer it would have been very unlikely that anyone would have been sued over doing CPR on this woman. However it is true that nurses often have a different view. I remember my old neighbor who was a nurse thought it was awful that we allowed a hospital to put a feeding tube in my mother when she could no longer eat because of a neurological disorder. Many years later I now agree with her but at the time we wanted to do everything we could to keep her alive.

    Interesting story -- in 1996 our family went to the Olympics in Atlanta. One day late in at night as we had just gotten off the train and were waiting for the bus to take us to our hotel very far from the venues, a man collapsed and it was apparent he had a heart attack. He was relatively young, probably in his 40's, and it was very very hot. We couldn't just let him die there, no one else was around. We were trained in CPR because we had tobe in order to adopt our daughter. My husband started CPR and just then another passenger came by who was a doctor and he helped and by the time the ambulance got there the man was revived. We went on our way, got on the bus and of course easy child and difficult child were both talking about it and other passengers overheard and clapped for husband.
  18. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    She's probably there to manage medications.
  19. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    My aunt, who just turned 92, is in an assisted living facility. She insisted on a DNR against my wishes. However, i am her health care proxy and agreed to abide by her desires as much as it saddens me. I am also an attorney and when I heard that the woman apparently did not have a DNR, my first thought was that her daughter had no problems with the lack of CPR because it means she gets the estate sooner and with more money in it. I am very cynical.