An 87-year-old woman is dead after a nurse refused to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her at Glenwood Gardens Retirement Facility in Bakersfield, Calif.
The nurse called 911 for emergency assistance when she realized the elderly woman was in grave danger, but when dispatchers asked her to perform CPR she refused, claiming it wasn’t her company’s policy, CBS reported Monday. The incident happened last Tuesday.
Authorities have not released the name of the woman who died nor of the nurse who refused to give her CPR.
A recording of their 7-minute conversation has gone viral, with many listeners adding their two cents about what should happen to the uncooperative nurse.
The dispatcher asks, "Is she breathing?" the nurse answers, "Is she breathing? Barely."
Then, asked to perform CPR, the nurse said, "Yeah, we can't do CPR at this facility."
The dispatcher then says, "OK, then hand the phone to the passerby. If you can't do it, I need, hand it to the passerby, I'll have her do it. Or if you've got any citizens there, I'll have them do it."
"No, no, it's not," the nurse replies.
The dispatcher said, "Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone, please. ... This woman's not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started."
Crucial seconds pass.
The dispatcher is then heard saying, "I don't understand why you're not willing to help this patient. Is there anybody that works there that's willing to do it?"
"We can't do that," the nurse simply replies. "That's what I'm trying to say."
"Are we just going to let this lady die?" the dispatcher says.
"Well, that's why we're calling 911," the nurse answers.
The dispatcher retorts, "We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing. Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"
The nurse answers, "Um, not at this time."
By the time the ambulance arrived at the scene, it was too late.
The incident has caused outrage on social media, with many calling for the nurse to quit, be fired or be prosecuted.
The Glenwood Gardens Retirement Facility released a statement to CBS saying they are "conducting a thorough review," but "our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."
Glenwood Gardens is an "independent living," not "assisted living," residence.
Maribeth Bersani from the Assisted Living Federation of America told CBS, "There's no requirement that the people in the building be trained to perform CPR, so a company could state in a policy they don't want anyone to initiate CPR."
But she also added that it’s a wake-up call for the industry:
"I think this tragic example will make us all think more closely about what type of services and training we should provide."