QUESTION: This week, a nurse in California didn’t perform CPR on a woman in a retirment community who eventually died. Facility protocol says employees must wait for emergency responders, even if the resident is facing an imminent health threat. What do you think of this policy? Where do the lines between workplace policy and ethical obligation overlap?
Nurse had no excuse not to save woman
This is a reflection of how litigious our society has become. The threat of a lawsuit now even prevents people from performing life-saving actions. If this person is indeed a nurse, shame on her. She has no excuse because she took an oath to provide care and medical assistance.
A senior citizen living in a retirement community is entitled to the confidence that employees will do the right thing in a life-threating emergency. Many employers in businesses other than health care require their employees to learn CPR so they can help each other. This “nurse” is a disgrace.
Nurse should have a guilty conscience
If you have the opportunity to save a life, especially if you are trained to do so, what kind of a person would not do so? If this nurse was on a public street and the same circumstance was presented, would she step over the dying person and walk on? I think not.
I now pity the nurse. How can she sleep at night with this on her conscience? As a senior citizen, I would avoid this “senior living facility” like I would avoid the plague. I would strongly advise this facility, i.e. a “retirement community” to revise their policy to make an exception when a matter of life or death is presented.
Employees must understand policies
After reading several articles regarding the situation, it appears that the person who refused to provide CPR misunderstood the policy of the facility. It would be interesting to find out how many other staff members are unclear on this policy and others. That problem is with the head of the facility for not ensuring proper training is taking place. Fortunately, the deceased women's family was aware that she didn't want life saving action taken in just such an event, but she didn't have a "do not resuscitate" order established.
I'm only closely familiar with one facility where my mother lives. It is classified as an assisted living facility. Upon moving into the home, we had to review and determine several actions to be taken by staff regarding emergency situations. In addition, she has a living will which was provided to the home as well as her doctor and hospital. I would hope that if an emergency situation occurs that proper action will be followed, according to her wishes.
Page 2 of 4 - Regarding the question put forth, if the policy of the California facility was as stated "wait for emergency responders" it is the responsibility of the individual or their caretakers to thoroughly understand the policies before moving in. If this was the policy of my Mothers facility, then I guarantee that we would not have allowed her to move in.
Each and every care facility should have stated policies as to how they handle emergency situations, but it is still the responsibility of the individual to understand those policies.
Then workplace policy and ethical obligation should not come into conflict.
Nurse should be suspended until investigated
I think that my first question is, why did that senior living center have a nurse if they tied her hands and told her not to give any medical care if a resident had a heart attack? Was this is just to satisfy their insurance company? My second question is why would any qualified nurse work there in all good conscience? A nursing license isn't handed out every day. It comes with considerable study and expense, especially to those who get there B.S.N. degrees or their master degrees.
The 911 operator pleaded with her to find anybody, the gardener, or even someone off the street to administer CPR to this lady. She didn't care enough to do that. Perhaps she cared more for her job, than another human being. If so, that is a sad commentary on the health care that our seniors are getting and the state of health care for our country. It is also a poor reflection on our values. When we forget to love our neighbors, care about our friends, look in on our families, and become so disengaged from real people that we can't even pick up a telephone or send a card, we have become a fractured and feverish society.
Does a fireman turn his back on a burning house with sleeping children in it? Does a policeman refuse to go after a purse snatcher or a kidnapper? Does a National Guardsman turn his back on his country when he is called to duty? The answer is a simple no. The point I getting at is this, you cannot forego your oath and training because an employer tells you to.
I think the California Board of Health should suspend her nursing privileges until an investigation is made. In cases like this ,"the Good Samaritan Law" applies. Anyone who would have tried to help this lady would not have been held accountable for any action they did to save her life. This nurse showed no signs of compassion and ethical treatment for her patient. May God have mercy on her because the public has already passed judgment!
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Fear replaces humanity
Stories like this gives me concern about our humanity. I was a volunteer instructor for the American Red Cross Safety Services for 14 years. I tought CPR, First Aid and Emergency First Aid to Doctors, Nurses, and Lay people. I believe in the life saving principles of CPR.
I worked at two Skilled Nursing Facilities in our area, so I am familiar with Advanced Directives and the limitations they put on First Response life saving.
I understand work place rules and guidelines. My question has to be, in this particular case, when does the fear of losing your job, replace your humanity? The place she worked for may have been within their legal rights not to provide emergency care for their residents, but when she was asked to allow a civilian to assist by the 911 operator, she refused. She stood there and watched this lady die. When does the human leave, and allow us to watch someone die? When does the fear of losing our job, prohibit us from preforming a life saving procedure we are trained in, when does a nurse leave the concepts of her profession to help people and do not harm? To deny a citizen to assist with the guidance of the trained 911 officer, in my opinion, is reprehensible. I do not know California law regarding emergency medical assistance by civilians, but here in Missouri, our citizens are encouraged to give assistance and they are protected by the States "Good Samaritan Law". By
California law, as far as work place rules, this Nurse will probably be protected. I question if she should remain in the Nursing profession. I have no personal knowledge of any Nurse that would refuse care, or refuse to allow a civilian to provide emergency care in an emergency.
Weather they lost their job or not. I am proud of the Nurses I know, and I know there is a severe need for qualified Nurses everywhere. In this case, I believe this Nurse put self over the welfare of the people she she was trained to provide care for. Maybe she should look for another line of work. I sincerely hope she is able to live with her decision to do nothing and watch this lady die.
Logic dictates nurse should have done something
If I had a family member in that facility I would get them out immediately. Their life is at stake. Obviously the nurse was not an RN who would have taken immediate resuscitative action. Policy? What kind of policy disallows EMT when necessary.....as was this. "Waiting for emergency responders" is appropriate, however, logic dictates immediate CPR until such help arrives. The policy setting management of this facility should be subjected to a prompt lawsuit.
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