Calif. CPR case prompts questions about senior living facility policy
"Anyone in my family or close to me that was in an assisted living or nursing home or anything like that would not be there if they had that sort of policy," said Martha Drewry, of Knoxville.
"If they are CPR, then obviously we would start at the facility upon finding the person unconscious. If someone is a Do Not Resuscitate, then obviously we would not do anything, we would just call the ambulance," said Mari Falk with Autumn Care.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There's concern across the country regarding CPR practices at senior living facilities, sparked after a California woman's death last week when a nurse at her facility refused to give her CPR, saying company policy did not allow it.
The nurse at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, California called 911 when 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed last Tuesday, but despite the pleas of the 911 operator, would not help her.
"When will the fire department be here?" asked the nurse, in the 911 tape released by officials.
"They're coming as quickly as they can, they've been on the way this whole time. But we can't wait, this lady's going to die," said the operator.
The operator became frantic at the nurse's refusal to do CPR.
"I understand if your boss is telling you that you can't do it. Is there any... I mean as a human being... I don't. Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die," asked the operator.
The nurse replied, "Not at this time."
An ambulance arrived and transported Bayless to a local hospital, where she later died.
After her death, Glenwood Gardens released a statement detailing it's policy preventing employees from administering CPR.
"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. That is the protocol we followed," the statement read.
So what is the policy of senior living facilities in Tennessee?
By state law, it's the resident's decision whether or not to receive CPR.
Before entering a senior living facility, like Autumn Care Assisted Living in Knoxville, every resident must fill out a Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment Form, or POST Form, designating whether or not they want CPR in the event of emergency.
They can choose CPR, or DNR, which means do not resuscitate.
"If they are CPR, then obviously we would start at the facility upon finding the person unconscious. If someone is a Do Not Resuscitate, then obviously we would not do anything, we would just call the ambulance," said Mari Falk, an administrator with Autumn Care.
Family members of Autumn Care residents say they feel safe knowing an emergency plan is already in place, and it's exactly what their loved one wants.
Martha Drewry, visiting the woman she calls her second mother today at Autumn Care, says she can't imagine something so horrible as what happened in California, happening to her.
"Anyone in my family or close to me that was in an assisted living or nursing home or anything like that would not be there if they had that sort of policy," said Drewry, of Knoxville.
Tennessee also has a Good Samaritan Law, which states that any person who voluntarily tries to help someone during an emergency cannot be held liable if something goes wrong.
That means you cannot be sued if you try, according to the law, to help someone in quote "good faith."
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