In the News: Nurse refuses to perform CPR

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.


About Nadeen Chrystal Davis

I am Nadeen Chrystal Davis, an aspiring fiction author. I am in the process of writing of novel that I hope to publish by next summer. In the meantime, I will be sharing some short stories. In this blog, I will talk about the writing process, about the ups and downs, about anything that catches my attention throughout my day. Feel free to comment: I want to hear from you. Read more about me on my blog: Hello and welcome!
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6 Responses to In the News: Nurse refuses to perform CPR

  1. Marloue says:

    Now, I too wonder if the families and the residents were aware of such policy at signing. If so, I am sorry to say this, but that was the right decision made by the nurse even though it is heartbreaking.I also wonder if the patient signed a “do not resuscitate” form.
    I have read that a lot of nursing homes have been refusing to perform CPR on patients because a lot of them do get sued for improper CPR.

  2. Allie McCallister says:

    I work in the industry myself. The facility that I work at has a NO CPR policy. It means that if a person’s heart stops, we will call 911, but noone from the facility will perform CPR. This is CLEARLY stated in the contract when a person agrees to become a resident. There is nothing new about this. It happens in facilities all over the country. Do you not find it odd that the family has not complained about the care received? Just the opposite, actually, the family was very happy with the care provided by this facility. The only people who are unhappy are those who have no idea what they are talking about.

    If you disagree with the policy, then don’t place your elderly loved one in a facility that has such a policy. And let us not forget, that you do not perform CPR on a LIVING person, you perform CPR on the DEAD. So the fact that this “nurse” did not perform CPR does not make her a murderer, as so many people are implying. You can’t murder someone who is already dead.

    Shame on the media for sensationalizing this family’s pain. And how in the world did this even come to light? Is that not a HIPPA violation?

    • Nadeen Davis says:

      I am aware that the family was happy. If everyone involved knows the policy, it is all good. I didn’t realize some facitlies has no CPR policies, it never occured to me. I was just wondering what is the benefit of that. I would think someone in independent facility is much healthier than someone in assisted or nursing home which have CPR policies. Just curious.

  3. I think like most people you are reacting out of compassion to an incomplete news story, Nadeen. Here are some clarifications:

    1.) If you listen to the 911 call, the caller clearly states the woman who collapsed is still breathing, though “barely”. The dispatcher should have asked the caller to assess her pulse instead of getting in an argument over performing CPR. CPR is not performed on a breathing person. What she needed medically was oxygen (for comfort) and an AED to restart/regulate the heart.
    2.) The facility was an Independent Living community, not Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing. That means no medical staff or services, just apartments for seniors with concierge amenities. The caller happened to be a nurse, but her job was Resident Services.
    3.) Both the director of the facility and the woman’s surviving daughter state that the caller acted correctly, according to both policy AND the dying woman’s preferences. Patient’s choice outranks anyone else’s desire to “save a life”.

    Of course it’s very unlikely an 87 year-old will return to full health after a myocardial infarction, no matter what actions are taken. Seniors choose these kinds of communities both because they are far cheaper than Assisted Living, which starts at around $5k/month in my state, and because they have consciously decided to live in a place where they will be allowed to die without costly heroic measures. Many seniors do not want to die in hospitals under any circumstances.

  4. Nadeen Davis says:

    As long as all parties involved know the rules, I am fine with it. I’m just stating that it would be hard for me to stand back and watch unless I knew that person had a DNR order… The only things I am really wondering: can such policies stand up in court? Or is it a cost saving measure? I would understand that for assisted living or nursing home portion. There is a decline in health. If it was the entire part, I get it. To be independent, you must be able to do a lot on your own. Last I saw in the news, the facility was conducting an internal review. Again, if family and residents are okay with it and they know the implications, so be it. I have seen medical places take shortcuts that are just not right. So I was just wondering… Waiting for more details to come out.

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