An 87-year-old woman collapsed in the dining room at the California independent living community where she resided.
Our Riviera Beach nursing home negligence lawyers understand she gasped for breath as the nurse on duty phoned 911 for assistance. When the 911 operator inquired about performing CPR on the woman, the nurse responded that to do so was against policy.
The exasperated 911 operator pleaded with the nurse, saying “It’s a human being,” and asking if anyone was there who was willing to help this woman and not allow her to die.
The nurse’s response? “Um, not at this time.”
The case has gotten a great deal of national attention due to that level of callousness with regard to the life of another.
The nursing home has defended its actions by saying the woman had a “do not resuscitate” order on file, and the family has actually backed the facility. The director of the home stated that the nurse did in fact follow protocol. The policy, according to the director, is that when a medical emergency occurs, 911 is contacted and the staffers wait with the individual until emergency crews arrive.
However, by the time they got there in this case, the woman was already gone. It seems a bit odd that a facility would have health professionals on staff if it was policy that they couldn’t actually aid someone in a medical crisis.
The director of the facility said that all patients are told upfront about the no-CPR policy when they first move into the independent living community. That same policy is inapplicable to the skilled nursing facility and the assisted living facility nearby.
A spokeswoman for the National Consumer Voice for Longterm Quality Care said she was “appalled” to learn that any nursing home would have such a policy. Yet this same chain of facilities is operational in 36 states.
The advocacy group’s spokeswoman underscored that people must be “extremely vigilant” with regard to where they choose to receive care, particularly in assisted living and independent care settings. No one can read through every word of a contract, especially because the entire process can be emotionally and mentally overwhelming for everyone involved.
Such facilities are extremely expensive, but keep in mind that the amount you pay is often tied directly to the amount of medical care that is being required of the staff. Independent living facilities tend to be less expensive than assisted living or nursing homes because residents aren’t expecting 24-7 medical care.
Still, many probably don’t expect staff to stand by and watch them die when they could be offering help.
Not all independent living facilities have that kind of policy, but it’s incumbent upon consumers to do the research and be clear on what the facility deems its responsibilities to be in these situations.
A spokesman for the California Nurses Association coined the industry of nursing homes as the “Wild West of health care.” It’s the worst-regulated. It involves patients who are the most vulnerable. And it involves a high number of companies that are in the market to make money. That combination makes it a hotbed of abuse. More oversight and industry-wide standards should be implemented, he said.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Facility’s no-CPR policy takes heat after woman’s death, March 4, 2013, By Janice Lloyd, USA Today
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