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Failure to Perform CPR on Nursing Home Resident is Neglect

An employee at an Illinois nursing home was criminally charged with neglect after reportedly failing to perform CPR on an elderly patient who later died at the facility. Local news outlets, citing state health department statistics, indicated this particular facility had been the subject of 44 complaints in a span of seven years. Earlier this year, the facility was named in a nursing home neglect lawsuit in connection with the death of another patient, whose family alleged her death was the result of malnutrition, weigh loss, sepsis and physical injury – all of which contributed to her death. Plaintiffs allege the facility failed to provide decedent with appropriate medical and nursing care or develop and implement an appropriate care plan.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a life-saving emergency procedure that is a combination of chest compression and artificial ventilation conducted when the heart stops beating. It helps manually preserve one’s brain function until further help can arrive. The American Heart Association reports it can double and sometimes triple the chances of survival after one suffers cardiac arrest.

In some cases when elderly patients are very sick, they will request an advance directive that indicates they decline CPR or other life-saving measures, sometimes referred to as “do not resuscitate” or “DNR.” Unfortunately, a lot of these orders may be tucked in a storage drawer or on file with a family doctor – and not quickly available for fast referral in emergency situations. Still, it is the responsibility of the nursing home to make sure that such records are readily available and that staffers are adequately trained. As noted in an article published by The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, nursing facilities have a responsibility to implement policies that provide for immediate CPR intervention for residents who don’t have a current DNR order in place. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CPS) in 2013 issued guidance to state survey agencies regarding CPR services in nursing homes. It requires skilled nursing facilities to implement policies to provide for at least basic CPR in accordance with – or in the absence of – a DNR, prior to the arrival of emergency medical services. Yet in a single recent quarter, eight nursing homes nationally were cited for failure to develop and properly implement CPR at their facilities, often leading to civil citations, fines and litigation.

Incidents of nursing homes failing to perform CPR are not isolated.

Some other recent alleged incidents include:

  • A nursing home accused of failing to perform CPR on a patient in a Virginia nursing home, even though the patient’s admitting physician indicated in a “Code Order” three days prior that resident was a “Full Code,” meaning patient had asked that all interventions be performed in the event of cardiac arrest. Both the CNA and LPN who responded when the patient was reportedly in distress did not know patient’s code status and failed to check it. The LPN reportedly declared the patient “dead” without a pulse, but took no note of pulse or respiration and failed to conduct CPR.
  • A nursing home in Michigan was fined more than $100,000 for failure to administer CPR to an 80-year-old resident, despite his calling for help for hours before a registered nurse entered her room and discovered her non-responsive. She did not at that time perform CPR or call an ambulance, directly conflicting with the patient’s advance care directive.
  • Nursing home workers at a facility in California were accused of watching as an 87-year-old woman collapsed in the dining room and failed to take action for more than seven minutes. One of the staffers got on the phone with 911, and a dispatcher pleaded with them to start CPR. The dispatcher informed them the woman would die if no CPR was started, but the staffer told her, “We don’t do CPR at this facility.” The dispatcher asked if someone could be flagged down on the street. In that state, independent living facilities aren’t licensed to provide medical care to elderly residents. Facility management insisted protocol had been followed.

If you suspect your loved one was a victim of this type of negligence, it’s important to discuss your concerns with an experienced Florida nursing home neglect attorney who can help you explore your legal options.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Belleville woman failed to perform CPR on nursing home resident who died, charges say, March 29, 2018, By Kara Berg,

More Blog Entries:

Fatal Nursing Home Neglect of WWII Vet Spurs Criminal Charges, March 19, 2018, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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