Nurse refuses to do CPR
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Police on Monday were investigating whether there was criminal wrongdoing in the handling of a health emergency at an independent living facility where a woman died when a nurse refused to provide CPR.
The facility, Glenwood Gardens, defended its nurse, saying she had followed policy in dealing with the 87-year-old woman who fainted in a dining room.
A police dispatcher who fielded the 911 call was told the woman had a heart problem and was barely breathing.
Police immediately routed the call to the Bakersfield Fire Department, where a dispatcher pleaded with a nurse at the facility to perform CPR on the woman.
The nurse refused, saying one of the home's policies prevented her from doing CPR, according to an audio recording of the call.
Michaela Beard, a spokeswoman for Bakersfield police, said she couldn't provide any further information because the investigation was ongoing.
An unidentified woman made the Feb. 26 call, and asked for paramedics to be sent to help the woman. Later, a woman who identified herself as a 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.
During the 7-minute, 16-second call, 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,” the transcript states.
Later in the call, Halvorson asks, “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?”
Halvorson is an experienced dispatcher and has worked for the county center for at least a decade, Kern County Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Miller said.
She followed procedures until she ran out of options when the caller refused to perform CPR or identify anyone else who could, Miller said.
“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 said. “What made this one unique was the way the conversation on the phone went. It was just very frustrating to anyone listening to it, like, why wasn't anyone helping this poor woman, since CPR today is much simpler than it was in the past?”
Firefighters and ambulance personnel arrived at the facility seven minutes after the call came in, Miller said. The county does not know who made the call, he added.
The woman had no pulse and wasn't breathing when fire crews reached her, fire Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza said.
They started CPR and loaded her onto a gurney, and the woman was later declared dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital.
The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse, saying she followed policy.
“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,” Toomer said in a statement.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
- Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
- EPA ripped for evading request for information
- Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
- Dems keep blocking joint negotiations on immigration orders
- Monarch butterflies find milkweed supply dwindles
- $4.8M in gold taken in armored truck hijacking in North Carolina
- Supreme Court justices split on states’ panels to prevent gerrymandering
- Several states in path of wintry blasts
- IRS audits of businesses reach 8-year low