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Protecting your loved ones: Elderly woman dies after nurse refuses CPR
Dispatcher: This woman's not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started.
A California retirement home is backing one of its nurses after she refused pleas from a 911 operator to perform CPR on an elderly woman who later died. Tonight we combed through Texas laws and statutes to find out how your loved ones are protected at an independent living facility. Several Central Texas retirement homes told KEYE TV this tragedy is a wakeup call for the industry.
Dispatcher: Are we just going to let this lady die?
Nurse: Well, that's why we're calling 911.
Dispatcher: We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing.
The 911 call between the emergency dispatcher and nurse is chilling. For seven minutes, the operator tries to get someone, anyone, to give CPR on an 87-year-old woman as she lay on the floor barely breathing.
Dispatcher: Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?
Nurse: Um, not at this time.
Representatives of the Glenwood Gardens facility said the seeming indifference of its staff is due to its policy. The retirement facility released a statement that said it's "conducting a thorough review," but, "our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."
"If a family came to me with this story, I would find every way possible to punish that facility," said Austin lawyer, Jim Terry, who has been practicing medical malpractice law for 14 years. "Whether or not she could be liable for not acting is complicated."
In Texas, laws for different facilities dictate different types of care. If your loved one is in a nursing home, Terry said the staff is required to act during a medical situation. Assisted or independent living facilities have different standards. Terry told us the same scenario could happen in Texas and the staff would not be required to respond.
"Those standards don't really talk about healthcare," he explained. "Morally, you should act and you're protected if you do."
Terry continued that if a worker at an independent or assisted living facility does decide to help, they are protected from any legal consequences, under Texas' Good Samaritan law.
We're told the elderly woman in the California case did not have a "do not resuscitate" order on file. However, her daughter reportedly says she's "satisfied" with the care her mother received.
Terry told KEYE TV to always read a retirement home's individual policy before signing on.
By Katherine Stolp