The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 5, 2013

Calif. woman dies after nurse refuses to do CPR

(Continued)

Bayless did not have such an order on file at the facility, said Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza of the Bakersfield Fire Department, which was the first on the scene. That's when firefighters immediately began CPR, continuing until she reached the hospital.

Dr. Patricia Harris, who heads the University of Southern California's geriatrics division, said the survival odds are slim among elderly who receive CPR. Even if they survive, they are never the same. She said she would override the home's policy and risk getting fired "rather than watch somebody die in front of me."

During the call, an unidentified woman called from her cellphone, and asked for paramedics to be sent to help the woman. Later, a woman who identified herself as the nurse got on the phone and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.

Halvorson urged the nurse to start CPR, warning the consequences could be dire if no one tried to revive the woman, who had been laid out on the floor on her instructions.

"I understand if your boss is telling you, you can't do it," the dispatcher said. "But ... as a human being ... you know, is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

"Not at this time," the nurse answered.

Halvorson assured the nurse that Glenwood couldn't be sued if anything went wrong in attempts to resuscitate the resident, saying the local emergency medical system "takes the liability for this call."

Later in the call, Halvorson asked, "Is there a gardener? Any staff, anyone who doesn't work for you? Anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady? Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her."

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