When Is Resuscitating Illegal?

When Is Resuscitating Illegal?

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - An 87-year-old woman barely breathing remained untouched after she collapsed at an assisted living facility in California.  The incident sparked outrage and has raised a lot of questions on whether that was even legal.

It all boils down to a document called DNR or Do Not Resuscitate. Something that should be filled out before your loved one goes to a nursing home or assisted living facility, it's a story that lit up our NewsWest 9 Facebook page.

It's unclear whether 87-year-old Lorraine Bayles had signed a DNR or do not resuscitate document.

Even so, there are many people who are questioning how her situation was handled. 
The woman had apparently fallen in the dining room of the Glenwood Gardens Nursing home in Bakersfield, California, because the facility has a policy which forbids employees from performing CPR. A nurse then called 911.

Dispatcher: "Is there anyone who works there that is willing to do it? We're just going to let  this lady die?"

Caller: "That's why we're calling 911."

Dispatcher: "We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing. She can't wait for them to get there."

After seeing the story, we took to Facebook and asked whether or not our viewers believe that basic first aid should have been rendered in this case. Within minutes of the posting, comments began to fly.

Amanda Tower wrote, "That's crazy! It may have been against their policy but it's still morally wrong. What kind of person can watch someone die knowing they can save their life but wont because it's against company policy?"

But not everybody thinks that the nurse was wrong in what she did, Cassandra Brewer wrote, "If they have DNR orders in their orders from the residents or their families, it's against policy and can cost them their jobs, regardless of what the dispatcher wanted. It may seem heartless but there are a lot of people that choose not to be resuscitated." 

It is still not known whether Bayless had a signed DNR document. However, in light of what happened, a statement was released by the Assisted Living Federation of America, saying, "Since independent living communities are not health care facilities, they generally do not have individuals trained in CPR."

NewsWest 9 did call several nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area, but due to the sensitivity of the issue, no one wanted to comment on camera.