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Calif. retirement home that left woman to die: It’s ‘protocol’

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2013

It's just policy. That's the statement issued by California retirement home officials in defense of one of their nurses who refused to give an elderly patient CPR — despite the pleas of a 911 operator.

The patient, an elderly woman, later died, The Associated Press reports.

Here's a sample of the exchange that took place between the 911 dispatcher and the nurse, AP reports: "Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?" And the nurse replied: "Not at this time." The nurse then went on to explain to the 911 operator that the independent living facility's policy prevented her from administering the aid herself.

The 911 call took place last week. It was initiated by the nurse, who dialed 911 to request paramedics come to the facility and help an 87-year-old woman who had collapsed and was barely breathing, AP reported. The 911 operator, once apprised of the woman's symptoms, pleaded for the nurse, or someone at the facility, to start CPR.

"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," the 911 operator said at one point, AP reported.

After the woman died, the executive director of the Bakersfield, Calif., facility issued a statement in defense of the nurse's failure to act.

"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," said Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, AP reported. "That is the protocol we followed."

Mr. Toomer did offer condolences to the woman's family, AP reported.

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