National News

Local CPR policies don't mirror California facility's

Posted March 5, 2013

— 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 concerns about the policies at similar facilities, including North Carolina.

Lorraine Bayless collapsed Feb. 26 in the dining room of Glenwood Gardens, a retirement home in Bakersfield that offers many levels of care. She lived in the independent living building, which state officials said is like a senior apartment complex and doesn't operate under licensing oversight.

Unlike nursing homes, which provide medical care, independent living facilities generally do not because residents can generally still care for themselves.

During the call, a woman who identified herself as a nurse got on the phone and told the dispatcher that she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.

The dispatcher urged the nurse to start CPR, warning the consequences could be dire if no one tried to revive the woman, who had been laid out on the floor on her instructions.

"I understand if your boss is telling you, you can't do it," the dispatcher said. "But ... as a human being ... you know, is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

"Not at this time," the nurse answered.

Brookdale Senior Living, the parent company of the California facility owns 56 in the Tar Heel state, including The Heritage of Raleigh independent living community.

Chuck Pierce, executive director of The Heritage, says the facility has a different policy than the California one.

"An associate who is trained to perform CPR can administer medical assistance," Pierce said. "If a staff member is a first responder and is not trained – if they are able – they can follow instructions (of the 911 operator.)"

Many states, including North Carolina, have "Good Samaritan" laws that protect a person from liability who tries to help in a medical emergency if the outcome is not good.

Doug Workman, supervisor for Cary's 911 center, says operators' goals are to walk callers through as much emergency aid as possible.

"We're going to try to convince them to do it," he said.

Wake County EMS District Chief Jeff Hammerstein says patients who get CPR before they arrive to an emergency room have a much better chance of survival.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • bmatt Mar 7, 2013

    I think everyone is missing the point that this was not a healthcare facility or assisted living center. The lady who passed away was not a "patient". Everyone who lived there KNEW that the policy was to call 911 and wait for medical help to arrive. Everyone who lived there signed and agreed to these terms. Regardless of what your personal feelings are on the subject, those are the facts of this particular case.

  • Sweet summertime Mar 7, 2013

    Side note, how come the dispatcher sound so erratic? smh. I understand she was fustrated but that is part of her job to stay calm no matter what the situation is. As for the nurse, until we actually know the reason why she refused we should not judge her by any means.

  • 426X3 Mar 7, 2013

    Can't blame the nurse if she was honoring the wishes of the patient.

  • delilahk2000 Mar 7, 2013


  • Ex-Republican Mar 6, 2013

    As punishement for such calousness that nurse should barred from ever working in health care in any capacity - Well with the possible exception of cleaning up hospital patients' human waste spills.

  • Teacher-Scientist Mar 6, 2013

    The "nurse" speaking with the operator cited company policy, but never a DNR order. I am glad the law is different here. Makes me glad to live in NC.

  • seumfithy Mar 6, 2013

    I missed something from your post in my response. If they have legit DNR but can not present it at the time, it is the same as no DNR. I have worked patients while the family digs through piles of files and papers looking for it. You MUST see the DNR for it to be valid and to stop care.

  • seumfithy Mar 6, 2013

    If a person is not carrying the DNR, how are medical personel supposed to know. If they are in cardiac arrest, they can't talk. Legally we are require to provide care, but the DNR is the official paperwork that says we are relieved of that duty. Most see it, must be current. Can't just take someones word for it. Also, people eligible for a DNR are usually pretty sick, and do not get out much. A young healthy person can not get one.

    There have been cases where valid DNR's are in place and the person is resuscitated. And lawsuits have followed. But to not resusciatate with no DNR....BIG lawsuits follow.

  • seumfithy Mar 6, 2013

    @ doggypoos
    If there is a DNR, it is an entirely different story. BUT, no mention was made during the 7 minute 911 call nor have I heard about one since. The emergency responders did treat and transport the patient which indicates no DNR. Also, please read and understand the Good Samaritan Laws. They protect lay people, not only trained people. If you give CPR, trained or not, in good faith, the law protects that person from all liability irregardless of the outcome. A Good Samaritan is not even eligible to be sued.

  • ohmygosh Mar 6, 2013

    mediguys- so you are saying one has to carry your DNR with you everyplace you go? This is a overburden. Seems like the law and your protocol is stacking the deck against those who don't want to be resuscitated. I wonder what happens when you do resuscitate someone with a legit DNR but it wasn't immediately available. Bet you end up in court.