Nurse refuses CPR on dying patient


A woman takes a brief CPR course during an outdoor festival to celebrate German Unity Day on the 21st anniversary of German reunification on October 3, 2011 in Berlin, Germany.


Adam Berry

Should a nurse always follow hospital rules, even when breaking the rules might better help save someone's life? That question is being debated now that a disturbing 911 call has been made public.

Bakersfield's Glenwood Gardens, a senior living facility, has a strict rule: employees are not allowed to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on residents,  KGET reported. So when Lorraine Bayless, 87, collapsed, the nurse who called 911 refused to perform CPR, despite the pleas of the dispatcher on the phone. Bayless later died. Her daughter said she is satisfied with the treatment.

But others argue that the nurse should have done more.

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Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson pleaded with the nurse to start CPR. "It's a human being," Halvorson said,  the LA Times reported. "Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

The nurse hesitated and then said, "Um, not at this time." Halvorson even assured the nurse that she wouldn't get sued for attempting CPR, but still, no one at the facility would perform it, KGET said.

Kern County Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Miller told BBC News that the nurse followed procedures, but he added that the call was frustrating. "It's not uncommon to have someone refuse to provide CPR if they physically can't do it, or they're so upset they just can't function,'' Miller  told the BBC.

"What made this one unique was the way the conversation on the phone went. It was just very frustrating to anyone listening to it."