BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (ABC) -- An employee at a retirement community in California refused the plea of a 911 operator to give CPR to an elderly woman who had collapsed.
The 911 dispatcher desperately tried to convince the employee to give 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless CPR.
Here’s how the call went:
DISPATCHER: We need to get CPR started.
NURSE: Yeah, we can't do CPR.
DISPATCHER: Are we just going to let this lady die?
NURSE: That's why we're calling 911.
DISPATCHER: We can't wait. She can't wait right now."
The passion of the dispatcher and passivity of the employee has created outrage and has raised the question: Isn’t the facility obligated to help?
The worker and her boss say no, that this is not a nursing home, but an independent living facility and by law they’re not licensed to provide medical care.
While local police said Monday that they’re investigating whether there was any criminal wrongdoing, one expert says what happened is legal.
“What happened here was legal. Believe it or not, we don’t have to be a good Smaritan. Morally, we should be,” said Bioethicist Arthur Caplin.
Back on the 911 call, as Bayliss continues to lie dying on the floor, the dispatcher tries a different tactic.
DISPATCHER: Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?
NURSE: Not at this time.
So, what if a stranger had jumped in to help, could they have been sued? Probably not, most states have laws protecting good Samaritans.
Bayless ended up dying in the hospital, but keep in mind the statistics are as low as three percent – 3 out of 100 people would survive. CPR, when done properly does often result in broken ribs, so it can be very traumatic.
However, just because the odds of success are low, doctors say it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to save a dying woman.
Despite protocol being followed, the nursing home said it would launch an internal investigation into the matter.
Glenwood Gardens released a statement confirming its policy prohibiting employees from performing CPR.
“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives. That is the protocol we followed,” the statement said.