A woman has died after a Californian retirement home nurse refused to give her CPR as it was “against the rules”.
An audio tape of a 911 call placed by the nurse has been released to the media, on which operator/dispatcher Tracey Halverson can be heard pleading with her to perform CPR on 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless, who had collapsed at the home and was barely breathing.
The nurse can be heard refusing to perform the emergency procedure several times, saying it was against the Bakersfield-based home’s rules to intervene and adding that she was under orders simply to await the arrival of emergency medical personnel.
Ms Halverson goes on to ask the nurse if another resident, gardener or anybody else not directly employed by the home could take the phone and listen to instructions on how to perform CPR.
She was told nobody was available.
In one particularly poignant exchange Ms Halverson asks: “Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die.”
The nurse responds, “Not at this time”.
Ms Bayless was later declared dead at the Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, a city roughly 100 miles north of Los Angeles.
Although police are investigating the case to see if there was any wrongdoing, the nurse’s employers at the Glenwood Gardens retirement home have leapt to her defence.
Jeffrey Toomer, the home’s executive director said in a statement: “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.”
Mr Toomer added that residents are informed of the policy upon arrival and have to agree to it to be accepted.
He went on to say that the policy is not in place for residents in the home’s adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
Mr Toomer did, however, offer his condolences to the family of Ms Bayless and admitted that a “thorough internal review” of the incident will take place.