Nurse Refuses to Perform CPR on Dying Woman & 911 Call Catches It All (VIDEO)

Say What!? 53

CPRA chilling 911 call out of Bakersfield, California is making the rounds of the Internet today, and it's not good news for the nurse on one end of the call. If what we're hearing is everything that happened, the nurse at a nursing home outright refuses to perform CPR on a dying woman even as the 911 dispatcher begs her to do the right thing. To make the sad case even more confusing: the nurse had actually called 911 to get help for the woman!

By the time medics arrived, it was too late. Eighty-seven-year-old Lorraine Bayless died. Which leaves America wondering today: what should happen to this nurse? Should she be punished for letting someone die on her watch?

It's a tough call. We know that the 87-year-old did NOT have a do not resuscitate, but we don't know if CPR would have saved her life.

We do know that we expect our medical professionals to try life-saving measures when help is needed. Trying can make all the difference.

But that didn't happen here, at least not from what we can hear on the tape. On the unsettling 911 call, the nurse repeatedly tells the impassioned dispatcher, "we can't do that" when she's pushed to perform CPR or find someone who can, even if it was someone who wasn't employed there.

Sounds like she might have been following orders, and according to a release obtained by CBS from the Glenwood Gardens Retirement Facility, the incident is being investigated. The facility's practice "is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."

So it's possible the nurse was just following orders. But does that matter? When someone's life is on the line, do orders from your boss to stand by and watch supersede the moral imperative to act? Should it even be legal for a company to create such a rule?

A part of me can't help but feel for this nurse: she may well have felt that her job, her livelihood was on the line. In this economy, that's terrifying.

Then again, a job is a job. Can we really compare that to a life? I don't think I could. I certainly don't think I could live with myself after putting the one ahead of the other.

This woman is a nurse, she chose a job where she faces life and death, and she knew walking in that people were putting her loved ones' lives in her hands. Maybe there's no illegality here, but there's certainly a moral wrong that's been done. 

Where do you draw the line? Should this woman suffer some sort of punishment for her inaction? Listen to the call:


Image via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

death, health care


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Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

This is a very tricky call to make. I have seen people fired and sued for trying to perform CPR on someone. In my state, I wouldn't dare touch someone even if it meant saving their life. I would be terrified of being sued because everyone here is so sue happy. That's the sad part of the world we live in, no good deed goes unpunished nowadays. 

the4m... the4mutts

It made me ashamed to live 5 minutes from where this happened. She is a NURSE. She has been trained to know if someone needs CPR. If they needed it, then to hell with her job, save the woman's life! She's an RN, it's not like she couldnt get a job damn near anywhere else. Even if she were fired, public outcry in this town would have been so heavy, that she would have been offered dozens of jobs in a week.

I know my town, and this woman's actions made me ashamed for Bakersfield.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I thought there was a Good Samaratin law??? Like even if someone tried to save another persons life and they ended up passing away you can't sue them because they tried CPR. Anyway, I think that this particular facility has a rule that they cannot perform CPR, that's why they have to wait till professionals get there. I would assume that the elderly lady knew this rule before putting herself in the home?? Maybe anyway. I don't know, I think the whole thing is sad and listening to the call is horrible! My heart goes out to the elderly woman's family. How horrifying to have this call broadcasted for all America to hear that the last moments of their loved ones life could have been saved but wasn't due to some lame rule.

nonmember avatar Lindsey

From what I have read and understood, this was NOT a nursing home. It was an assisted living/retirement community. The residents knew what the policy was regarding emergency situations. The nurse probably would have been fired from her position if she had performed CPR on the elderly woman. I'm sure she didn't just let the woman lay there struggling, she did what her job told her to do. And I have seen a statement from the woman's family saying they were very happy with the care she received at the residence. The owner of the home said that the emergency situation policy at the assisted living/retirement home differs from their Skilled Nursing Home with regards to CPR. I feel for the family having this completely plastered across the country!

Thomas Mc

Next ad: " Do you have a parent you absolutely despise? Can't wait to get your hands on your inheritance? Bring them to Glenwood Gardens! We guarantee you the absolute shortest wait legally possible."

WWJD? Read Luke 10:30-37

Sandra Ann

A good samaritan has the right to refuse to preform CPR.... a medical professional has a code of ethics! As an EMT and CPR instructor I would NEVER let the person lay there dying unless I knew for a fact that they had a DNR.... My job as a human being, followed by my medical certifications, wouldn't allow me to not help a human being in distress.... Something is deffinitly missing from the story and it sounds as if this woman was put between a rock and a hard place by her employer, but when does a job come befor a life, especially when you are in the business of helping others!!!

nonmember avatar Jamie

Um. I work in a nursing home sbd we aren't supposed to do CPR on certain patients because it actuality will do more harm. Also, if I did, I would be fired on the spot.

Third, the woman's family has no issues with what happened. I feel for this poor nurse being raked over the coals by the media. Shame on you.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I saw this on the news last week. God I will remember to ask RN homes or retirement homes if they perform medical interventions if needed when its time for us to look into homes for family or us. Apparently there are quit a few RN homes in Cali that do this, DON'T provide help. What a joke and I would be embarrassed if I were that RN, she isn't a nurse in my eyes. Yes she was doing her job but what the hell did she learn in nursing school? DNR, DNI is one thing and if they have something like that as their wish they should be on a higher level of care. Not a retirement home. It kind of made me sick but then again I would refuse to work in a place that told me to sit and wait. Not what I went to school for.

deLaLynn deLaLynn

It's humane law! Required to help a life in need, earthly job be damned. When a human life is in danger you are expected to react and help wtf is wrong with people

the4m... the4mutts

All you talking about her losing her job, most likely dont live here in Bakersfield. We have a loving, caring, giving town. When things like this happen, someone being fired for doing the right thing, business owners jump on the story, and offer the person a job. We have DOZENS of care facilities, in home care companies, and I would feel comfortable guaranteeing the woman would have gotten another job ASAP had she lost this one.

Our community is a bit back-woods, and redeckish. But we care. We dont like people going without work, food, housing, etc.

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