Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New law: The nurse who wouldn't perform CPR

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

California legislators sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday that would make it illegal for employers to have policies that prevent employees from providing lifesaving medical help in an emergency.

SACRAMENTO, CA (Catholic Online) - A bill that would stop employers from having policies that forbid employees from taking lifesaving measures is on the desk of California Governor, Jerry Brown. The bill is a response to the death of Lorraine Bayless, 87, who died in a Bakersfield retirement home after staff at the home said they could not perform CPR.

Bayless collapsed on Feb. 26, and staff at the Glenwood Gardens nursing home called 911. During the call, the dispatcher recommended staff perform CPR. The staffer on the phone refused saying her company policy forbade the lifesaving procedure.

After she refused, the quick thinking dispatcher, later identified as Tracey Halvorson, implored the nurse to find someone else to attempt the procedure.

"I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to a passer-by. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don't get this started. Do you understand?"

When paramedics arrived, Bayless had already stopped breathing and paramedics were unable to revive her.

The subsequent controversy created a brief media firestorm as the debate raged over whether a company should be allowed to permit employees from providing lifesaving procedures during emergencies. Already, Good Samaritan laws protect ordinary citizens from legal punishment if they attempt to save a life. At the same time, some businesses forbid such behavior and employees could be fired, such policies are often the result of an extreme fear of liability.

To protect these employees, Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pamona) sponsored AB633 which would bar employers from adopting such policies. It would protect employees who perform lifesaving procedures during emergencies.

The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and is up to Gov. Brown to approve.

The retirement home management maintains that the nurse acted correctly although it admitted she may have misinterpreted the instructions provided to staff. As for the victim's family, they have refrained from bringing suit, saying that Bayless would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially and was prepared to die naturally.

Fortunately, with a pending change in state law, California caregivers and 911 operators, will not have to suffer this drama again.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)