Arthritis Awareness Month is an important and annual event celebrated every May to raise awareness…
Nurse’s Denial of CPR Raises Red Flags
An 87-year-old woman died recently after a nurse at her independent living home in Bakersfield, California refused a 911 dispatcher’s pleas to perform CPR. Lorraine Bayless collapsed in her dining room in the independent living home that offers many levels of care, before an employee of the facility called 911. A woman who identified herself as a nurse then refused to administer CPR after the dispatcher warned her that the consequences could be dire.
Brookdale Senior Living, the company that owns the facility where Ms. Bayless lived, initially said its employee acted correctly by waiting until emergency personnel arrived, but later claimed the employee had misinterpreted the company’s guidelines. Ms. Bayless’ family said that it was her wish to die naturally, and that she was aware that the independent living home did not offer trained medical staff, but opted to live there anyway.
This disturbing situation should act as a red flag to all residents of independent living facilities, or anyone who is or knows someone who is considering moving into an independent living facility. When investigating independent living facilities, it is important to have a complete understanding of what type of medical care is offered and what is not offered. It is equally as important to know the facility’s guidelines and policies about emergency medical care.
Before making a decision, ask the facility’s director questions about the staffs’ medical training and obtain a copy of the facilities emergency policies. This way you will know whether you or a loved one will receive the kind of care desired.
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This case is alarming and ironic on several levels. First, no seniors living community defined as “independent’ or even “assisted living” is licensed to deliver skilled nursing care and they don’t. The question of what is supposed to happen in an emergency must be defined by the facility’s policies. Surely the person who said she was a nurse could have given CPR. She was not employed as a nurse there and therefore was not obligated to administer CPR. However the Board of Nursing is reportedly investigating her actions because she failed to hand the phone off to anyone else who could have at least gotten instruction on CPR from the 911 dispatcher. A worse problem is that Ms. Bayliss, according to her family did not want to be resuscitated in an emergency like this, but no one at the facility seemed to be aware of her wishes. The case is a wake-up call both for individuals who are living in such communities and for the facilities. Elders should be required to spell out their wishes in writing so that everyone knows what to do or not do. The facility owners need to clarify their policies about emergency and resuscitation and put those in writing for all residents to see. That, in combination with what each resident needs to communicate about end of life wishes and emergency wishes, would have saved everyone a lot of grief. You can learn more in my blog at AgingParents.com and in many articles on elder related subjects.