A debate between morality and policy has risen after a California nurse at a senior living facility refused to give CPR on a dying 87-year-old woman, despite a 911 dispatcher’s pleas.
The incident began when the elderly woman collapsed and struggled to breathe in the dining room of Glenwood Gardens, an independent living facility, on February 26, reports CBS News 6. A nursed called 911 and the dispatcher asked the nurse to perform CPR, but because of facility policy, the nurse said that she could not provide medical care.
“I understand if your boss is telling you you can’t do it,” said dispatcher Tracey Halvorson, “But… as a human being… you know. Is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”
The nurse responded, “Not at this time.” Seven minutes after the call was made, paramedics arrived at the facility, but it was too late. The woman was declared dead at the scene.
While the nurse was not obligated to give the dying woman CPR, people across the nation are having the debate over what’s morally right and company policy.
“It’s pathetic, absolutely pathetic,” Dr. Thomas Horowitz, a medical ethicist who listened to the 911 tape, said. “I’m disappointed in a facility which would dis-empower its people to help rather than empower them to help.”
But Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, said that the nurse did the right thing.
“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” Toomer said in a written statement. “That is the protocol we follow.”
The incident also has people asking if their loved ones are in proper care. In fact, Vermont is the only state where it is legally required that a person comes to the aid of another in a medical emergency. In other states, a person does not have to be a Good Samaritan.
The victim’s daughter said that her mother has been living at the facility for three years and that she does not think her mother would have survived even if the nurse gave her CPR.
What would you have done?