Death on a cold floor Author: TriSecDate:03/09/2013 13:22:57
It's something we all must ponder from time to time as mortal beings. At the end of our existence on this world, what will happen to us as we reach the end?
The Hollywood version of a graceful exit, in our own bed, surrounded by family is a nice picture, but it rarely happens in the real world.
Sometimes we're left in a massive facility with overworked nurses by a family that can no longer care for complex needs of a dying individual. At the very least, we expect the staff to be competent, and maybe even compassionate.
Which is why I'm a bit surprised that the story from California didn't get more national traction. Listen to the following audio:
Let me caveat before I go on. We don't know the true circumstances. It's since come out that the unfortunate lady involved had a "DNR" order. A prominent local conservative talk-show host and lawyer speculates that CPR was not started because the home was afraid of liability.
But me, being a first responder and first aid trainer....I find this unconscionable. A nurse, who should know CPR, blatantly refused to even attempt to save this woman's life. With a victim on the floor, she didn't even do what's called a "primary assessment" to see if the woman was still breathing, or had a heartbeat. Whether or not you get to the point of CPR, at the very least you need to know what condition the victim is in. This is important information for a first responder. You can hear the 911 operator pleading with her to pass the phone off and let someone more caring take over.
If the victim did indeed have a DNR order, that's one thing....but knowing that, why even call 911? From what I've been able to glean from the story, the woman was upright and walking, headed to breakfast, when she collapsed. The director of the facility called it a matter of policy, and of course in this lawyer-happy day and age the protocols were followed.
The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse's actions in a statement, saying she did indeed follow 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 written statement. "That is the protocol we followed."
Toomer offered condolences to the woman's family and said a "thorough internal review" of the incident would be conducted.
I can't speak for California, but in this Commonwealth, there's any number of laws and policies that protect healthcare workers as well as passersby from legal ramifications should they attempt a rescue. As a professional, this nurse should have known better.
As for myself, I have yet to be in a situation where my direct actions result in the saving or indeed, losing of a fellow-creature's life....but I've seen my share of bloody trauma that could go south if not treated quickly and well.