Nurse Refuses to Perform CPR on Dying Patient in Assisted Living Center

In a story that made national headlines, a woman who identified herself as a nurse at Glenwood Gardens, a California assisted living center, refused to perform CPR on 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless, despite the pleas of a 911 operator that she do so.

The employee said that performing CPR on a resident was against the facility’s policy. She refused to ask another employee to perform CPR.

“Is there anyone that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?” the dispatcher asked.

“Uh, not at this time,” the nurse replied.

When the ambulance crew arrived seven minutes later, they did begin CPR, but it was too late to save Bayless. She was pronounced dead at the nearby hospital.

The director of Greenwood Gardens said that in the event of a medical emergency, their practice is to call emergency services and to wait with the patient until the ambulance arrives, and that protocol was followed in Bayless’ case.  However, a statement issued by Brookdale Senior Living, a Tennessee company that owns Greenwood Gardens, said that the incident resulted from “a complete misunderstanding of our practice” with regard to what to do in an emergency situation.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can cause harm to a patient if it is done incorrectly. Even when done properly, it can result in broken ribs and other injuries, and the patient’s survival is far from guaranteed.  Bayless’ family is not suing the facility, and Los Angeles police say that no crime was committed.

However, if you have a loved one who is in a facility, you need to understand what their policies are with regard to performing CPR. If your loved one has died because a facility like Greenwood decided that performing CPR was not part of their contract to provide care, you need to speak to an attorney with experience handling cases of nursing home neglect.

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