Rescue 911: CPR Not Performed on Resident of California Independent Living Facility by Employee in Accordance with Company Policy

Over the past weekend many news stories discussed the dramatic events which unfolded at an independent living facility in Bakersfield, California last week where a resident collapsed and later died.  An independent living facility is distinguishable from a skilled nursing facility and assisted living facility in that the residents live on their own with a minimum of assistance in an age-segregated community.  These facilities are generally not regulated and not subject to the same requirements and level of scrutiny as other long term care settings.  This particular facility was on a campus with a skilled nursing facility and an assisted living facility.

Although the facts are still being established, at this time it appears that the resident, Lorraine Bayless of Glenwood Gardens, collapsed and became unresponsive.  In accordance with company policy, a nurse called 911 and awaited the arrival of first responders.  During the call, the nurse refused to commence CPR indicating that company policy did not permit her to do so.  The 911 dispatcher requested that the nurse locate a bystander who might be able to start CPR.  No one was located and CPR was started once the fire department arrived.  The resident later died at a local area hospital.

In media reports, the executive director of the facility discussed the company policy and again emphasized that independent living facilities do not offer medical assistance and that its clients are well informed of this policy.  Ms. Bayless’s daughter echoed the executive director’s comments and apparently has stated she was satisfied with how the situation was handled by the facility.

In light of the attention this matter has received, long term care providers will likely be reviewing their policies and how medical care is addressed.  Independent living facilities that have similar policies should make sure that if they have such policies, these policies are in writing and clearly communicated to residents.  Nevertheless, providers may want to consider the optics of such a policy in an emergency situation.


1 Comments

  • Rob Houck, 7th Thursday 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Reply

    So living there was an implicit DNR order. That may be fine, but explicit would be better. If the nurse could have told the dispacher, we have the woman’s orders not to assist her, I would be much less critical. As it is, I wonder about a nurse’s duty (as a nurse) to render assistance so long as it does not endanger her (the nurse’s) life. Surely there is a good Samaritan law that would apply…or?


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