To CPR or not to CPR

Last week an 87-year-old woman living at an independent living facility died. This is not out of the ordinary, but what makes this case unique is an employee of the facility called 9-1-1 for help when the 87-year-old passed out then refused to administer CPR as instructed by the dispatcher. The employee, initially identified as a nurse but later identified as a X, told the dispatcher it was against company policy to perform any procedures on residents and that she must wait for emergency personnel. The dispatcher pleaded with her to perform CPR and even asked her to hand the phone to someone else who might be willing to perform CPR.

The facility, Glendale Gardens in Bakersfield, California, is an independent living home, and as such has no medical personnel on staff. The 87-year-old woman’s family says the woman, Lorraine Bayless, wanted to die naturally and would not have wanted CPR performed. The family has no plans to sue Glendale Gardens and says Bayless received good care there. So, the family is happy, but nobody else seems to be. Even Glendale Gardens, which initially supported the employee’s decision, has changed its mind and now says she did not follow protocol.

Apparently the Bakersfield police department is investigating the situation and trying to determine if a crime had been committed. One recent article points out that Bayless appears to have died from a stroke rather than a heart condition, and thus CPR would not have saved her.