As I am scrolling through my Facebook page, I came across the ABC News headline about a nurse refusing to perform CPR for a resident who was having trouble breathing at a facility. Apparently, it is company policy to just wait for emergency personnel to arrive and begin intervention in emergency cases. The resident died upon arrival at the hospital. Here is the coverage: Nurse refuses to perform CPR.
I was horrified by the headline. It goes against everything that I have been taught through the years in the health care field. The American Heart Association has done all it could to encourage bystanders involvement in emergency situations. There was even talk about removing the breathes as people fear mouth to mouth and focused on the chest compressions to keep the heart pumping. Good Samaritan law covers the person as long as care is provided within the established protocol. This is situation is hard to comprehend.
As someone one who has performed CPR in an emergency, I find it hard to stand there and watch. I know that you never know if CPR would bring them back but at least you know you tried. I thought maybe the resident has a Do Not Resuscitate order but nurse stated it was facility policy.
The pleading of the dispatcher was heartbreaking. In my opinion, this policy must violate some kind of law. It brings me back to last summer to the incident about this young lifeguard in FL who was fired for saving someone’s life because the person was beyond his area of surveillance. One of the reason people chose service careers such as police officer, first responders, nursing, lifeguard, etc is the desire to jump to a fellow man’s rescue.
Let’s explore the legal and ethical side of things for a second. I am not a lawyer and these are just my thoughts. First of all, are the residents and their families aware of the policy in place? If they signed some agreement or acknowledgment of this policy, are they fully aware of the implications? Would you let your family member live in a place like this? Secondly, why would you hire a nurse to be present in a facility but ban them from starting CPR until medical services arrive? Is the nurse a licensed professional? Almost all health care providers at facilities are pretty much required to be certified in CPR. So I can just imagine the possible lawsuits from the family, from the staff, even from the dispatcher for distress and emotional suffering.
Now on the facility responsibilities. Why would they have such a policy? Have they been sued in the past of improper CPR? Why are they exempt from being required to start CPR? Is the facility licensed or regulated by some kind of governmental or private agency? Did a lawyer actually review this policy to see if it would hold up in court? Was this a cost-saving measure as more accountable and licensed professionals will cost more in the budget?
I fear so many other “wrongs” may be uncovered as the days go by in the story. Time and time, people take the unethical route to save a buck. Unfortunately, there is a reason why certain protections must be put into place by some regulatory agency. What seems like common sense to me might seem frivolous and unnecessary to someone else. This is definitely one of those teachable and enlighting moments.
I will post more about this as the story unravels. Remember to like me on facebook, follow my blog and follow me on Twitter to get all my latest posts.