Considering the prevalence of elder abuse and mistreatment, it is relatively rare for any individual incident to attract widespread attention and public outrage. However, over the last few days there have been significant discussion and sharing of information about one particular case out of LA involving a care worker who refused to provided needed life support services to an ailing senior who ultimately died. The LA Times has been covering the story since the beginning
The administrators at the nursing home in question have suggested that the incident stemmed from a “misunderstanding” of emergency are procedures, but that has not stopped senior care advocates to understandably voice their frustration at a lapse that led to the passing of resident.
According to reports, a call was placed from the nursing home to emergency responders after an 87-year old residents at the independent living center collapsed while in the dining hall. A nurse at the facility began speaking with a 911 dispatcher–telling the dispatcher about the women’s sporadic breathing. As expected, the emergency operator told the nurse that CPR should be performed immediately to help the senior.
The 911 tape recording show that the dispatcher was amazed to hear the nurse respond that she was not allowed to perform CPR on the woman. Apparently, the nurse’s supervisor was also standing near the phone at the time, but she is not heard of the tape. Reports indicate that the supervisor also instructed the nurse not to perform CPR>
At one point the exasperated dispatcher is heard saying, “Is there anyone willing to help this woman and not let her die?” The response: “Not at this time.”
Eventually emergency responders arrived at the facility. However, the repercussions for the senior of the delay in care were too much, and she ultimately passed away.
As the 911 call recording began spreading around online, listeners were obviously outraged by what they heard. How could the caregivers at the facility refuse to provide support?
According to comments made after the fact, a spokesperson for the home explained that it is the policy of the facility to not provide resuscitation to those who reside in the independent living portion of the home. There is also a skilled nursing and assisted living facility where CPR is performed. Importantly, the senior was not on a “do not resuscitate list” and it is unclear if she or her family knew that the policy of the caregivers was to provide no support at those times.
The latest reports indicate that an investigation is now underway, conducted by the local police department, to determine exactly what happened and whether any changes need to be made. In the interim the nurse in question is on voluntary leave from the home. Repeating its claim that they did nothing wrong, spokespeople for the parent-company which owns the facility claims that as an independent living facility that is not licensed, the facility is not allowed to perform any medical services to residents.
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