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When Policy Prevents Life-Saving Protocols

Two years ago, an 87-year-old woman named Lorraine Bayless passed away in Bakersfield, California. She was living in a senior living facility at the time. This seems like a common enough occurrence, except for one thing: when Bayless stopped breathing, a nurse stood there watching, rather than giving CPR.

The story made national news, including a recording of a heated discussion between the nurse and a 9-1-1 dispatcher, who pleaded with the nurse to perform CPR. The nurse replied that CPR was against the facility’s policy, and that no one present would perform CPR. Paramedics arrived seven minutes later and took Bayless to the hospital, where she passed away.

The policy was a common one that many people didn’t realize existed at the time. For seniors, CPR can be dangerous. Very rarely, it can cause more harm than good. Because of this, some senior communities adopted policies that prevent staff from providing this life-saving measure.

Later that year, in October, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a rule prohibiting nursing homes from putting policies in place that forbid CPR to its residents. This reflects the medical nature of a nursing home; medical facilities must provide medical care — including CPR — to those that need it. Facilities that are simply communities for seniors, however, are not bound by this rule. There is no requirement for a business’s staff to perform CPR, much like passersby are not required to do so, unless they volunteer. As a result, it is important to discuss the policies of any facility where an elderly relative might be staying in order to ensure their wishes are respected in the case of a medical emergency. It is also worth noting that medical facilities and nursing homes can respect the terms of a do-not-resuscitate directive.

The attorneys at The Eisen Law Firm work exclusively with medical malpracticecases and understand the nuances of medical treatment policies in eldercare facilities. Our Ohio medical malpractice attorneys build compelling cases for clients to ensure any loss or unnecessary suffering is properly compensated. We encourage anyone who has lost a loved one due to neglect at a facility for seniors to contact us online or call 216-687-0900 for a free consultation.