This story is sweeping through the mainstream media - a
nurse at a California senior living facility called 911 when a
resident was having trouble breathing. Per the 911 call (LA Times coverage here):
A fire dispatcher unsuccessfully pleaded with a nurse to
start CPR on an elderly woman who was barely breathing. "It's a human
being," Bakersfield fire dispatcher Tracey Halvorson said. "Is there
anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?" The woman
paused. "Um, not at this time."
It's hard to believe, isn't it? The nurse indicated in
the course of the call that it was against the facility's staff policy to
perform CPR and save the woman's life.
Seriously? I can't track down the actual policy, but saw a report online that
reported the policy was actually ambiguous - paraphrasing from memory,
something like: "In case of emergency call 911 and wait for help." It
didn't seem to preclude helping someone who was dying.
We can only guess at this time why the nurse was so hesitant to help. Perhaps
she was concerned about liability? Or her job? In any event, employers who are
likely to face such situations (like senior facilities) may wish to make their
employees aware of "good Samaritan" laws (50
State Survey here). These laws generally shield people who in good faith
attempt to render assistance.
You wouldn't think it's necessary to include a workplace policy that "it's
okay to save someone's life when the 911 operator tells you that person is
dying and needs you to perform CPR" . . . but maybe it is.
Read additional employment law articles on Phillip Miles'
blog, Lawffice Space
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