CPR Response is Personal
But Action is Rewarded
Much has been written in the last several days about the refusal of a nurse to perform CPR on an elderly resident of an Independent Living Facility in Bakersfield, CA. According to initial reports, the 87 year old resident collapsed in the dining area of the facility. Someone called 911, reported the incident and requested emergency medical response. Paramedics were dispatched and a conversation took place between the dispatcher and someone at the facility who identified herself as a nurse. The dispatcher urged the nurse to initiate CPR and the nurse declined to do so, explaining that it was the policy of the facility to not attempt CPR on its residents.
It was confirmed that the policy of the facility in case of a health emergency was to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrived. According to the facility manager, residents are made aware of the policy and agree to it when they move in.
Independent Living Facilities generally do not provide medical care or personal assistance and are essentially communities of seniors who are provided with an apartment, dining facilities, housekeeping, and generally some social activities. It is not uncommon for such facilities to not allow their staff to perform CPR or use AED’s but to call 911.
They are not skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities where this policy would not apply.
Whether CPR would have saved this lady is highly speculative due to her age and the fact that she died of a stroke, not a heart attack. She did not have an Advance Directive on file and her daughter has stated that she is satisfied with the way the situation was handled.
There are way too many unanswered questions hanging in the air for there to be rational conclusions as to whether this incident should have been handled differently. As usual in this day of “ready, fire, aim” journalism practiced by some, sensationalism and finger pointing take precedence over thoughtful consideration.
One thing is certain. Under almost all circumstances the decision to come to the aid of another is a personal one. A Good Samaritan is rewarded for his or her actions not only by the good feeling it brings to help another but by the law that protects him or her from liability for simple negligence which might be incurred in a good faith attempt to help.
Be prepared to help by getting CPR and AED training. Properly trained, you can save a life. And it will happen when you least expect it. The feeling you will experience is one you will carry proudly for the rest of your life.