Woman Denied CPR Had Refused It Anyway, So Give Her Nurse a Break

ambulance emergencyIf you missed it (but how could you have?), the country has been in an absolute uproar over the story of an 87-year-old woman named Lorraine Bayless who died in her California retirement community after a nurse refused to perform CPR. On the unsettling 911 call, which has been made public, the nurse repeatedly told the 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. It was understandably unnerving to hear, and the nurse has basically become public enemy #1 as a result.

But now, what Bayless' family has to had to say about the upsetting turn of events seems to indicate that we may wanna lay off the nurse. Although local fire officials who responded said Bayless did not have a "do not resuscitate" order on file at the home, her family says it was their "beloved mother and grandmother's wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention." That's a game-changer, right?

The family's statement went on to say:

We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace. ... We regret that this private and most personal time has been escalated by the media.

Furthermore, they said they have no plans to sue or try to profit from the death, and called it "a lesson we can all learn from."

In the meantime, Glendale Gardens has released their own statement noting that their employee misinterpreted the company's guidelines and was on voluntary leave while the case is investigated. That's fair, and the independent living facility could very well come up with a different conclusion about the matter. After all, they need to proceed with foresight here. Could letting this nurse off the hook set some kind of worrisome precedent?

But that's not our, the public's, problem or decision to make. And knowing that Bayless didn't want the intervention that's being argued about should at least give us pause, if not convince us to seriously lighten up on the nurse who -- at least as far as Bayless' own family seems to be concerned -- is no villain.

What do you think about what Lorraine Bayless' family had to say? Do you think it's wrong for the public to be villainizing this nurse?


in the news, general health, crime


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nonmember avatar K

I work in an ER and I feel bad for this woman. Guidelines are tricky to follow, and even if she were a nurse when,ah not be CPR certified, though she should be. Even if she had done it, the woman would've probably not have made it. And if she had, she would have no quality of life thanks to broken ribs and new areas open to infection after they tube her and send her to ICU. Let this be a lesson: families need a clear DNR that is updated and available (we've had to revive many people with lost DNR forms) and let facilites like that send a clear message to their employees on how to deal with these situations.

wamom223 wamom223

I always felt bad for the nurse being blamed when the family didn't blame her. 

nonmember avatar Maggie Smith

It's cruel to perform CPR on someone once they get to a certain age. K is absolutely right about what the complications could have been. This is just another example of the hysteria of the ignorant masses brought on by the media. This country is going downhill fast.

TheTr... TheTruthTeller

I'm glad the lady's wishes were honored in regards to heroic measusres and I'm glad the family has spoken out to defend the nurse. I hope the media will now leave them alone during this emotional time and allow them to greive in peace.

lulou lulou

I think less of the home's ownership for backpeddling on this and shifting the blame to the nurse.

mommy... mommyof5cutties

If she didn't have dnr on file then they should have tried to save her. Its hard to assume someone's wishes that's why it his on paper...

Mason... MasonsMom503

This is why I'm getting a "DNR" tattoo on my chest.

Tripl... TripleC14

She did NOT misinterpret the policies, the facility confirmed the policy when the 911 call was released. And I think the policy is pretty heartless. If someone is officially DNR fine, otherwise, help them however you can. You're answer to "is someone there willing to help this woman" should not be "no".

tuffy... tuffymama

The rights and wishes of the patient are paramount. The nurse is in the clear, morally, IMO, and I hope legally as well.

blunt... bluntcakes

i love how people like to believe that healthcare workers are all supposed to be angels and save lives, which we are, in theory. nurisng school for me was basically 'how to not get sued while taking care of your patients' and many facilities like these have those laws in place that a CNA, LVN, or RN cannot administer CPR to a patient because of the fact that its a rehab/assisted living facility and on these patiets more damage can be done than good. I sympathize wholeheartedly with the nurse because she was just doing her job even if its morally 'wrong' its HER JOB im sure this 87 year old woman was not worth losing her license over as cruel as that sounds.

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