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No Charges for Nursing Home that Refused to Give CPR to Dying Woman

Update Date: Mar 07, 2013 02:30 PM EST
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Police have determined that no crime was committed when a woman who identified herself as a nurse on a 911 call refused to administer CPR to a dying elderly woman. That would seem to close the book on a case that has garnered national attention.

The seven-minute 911 call from Glenwood Gardens raised a national furor this week, when a woman who identified herself as a nurse to a 911 dispatcher refused to administer CPR to a resident at the facility. The caller also refused to find a passersby who would be able to give CPR.

Lorraine Bayless had reportedly collapsed in the cafeteria, and was pronounced dead upon arrival at an area hospital. She was 87 years old at the time of her death.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Bakersfield Police Department has declined to press criminal charges against Glenwood Gardens or any person at the facility.

The facility at first rallied behind the woman who made the 911 call who, according to the Mason County Daily News, was a resident services director. They said that she had followed company policy and that residents who agree to live in the independent living facility are aware that staff members cannot give CPR. However, the company released a second statement on Tuesday, saying that the staff member had not correctly followed company protocol and had been put on temporary leave.

Also this week, the family of Ms. Bayless announced that they would not be suing the facility. They said that it had been Ms. Bayless's wish to die a natural death.

"It was our beloved mother and grandmother's wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention," the family stated. "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." 

According to Inside Bay Area News, the entire furor could have been avoided if Ms. Bayless had a Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment, or a POLST. She was not alone; only 23 percent of Californians have their end-of-life wishes in writing.

A preliminary death certificate states that Ms. Bayless died of a stroke, not a heart attack, so it is unclear whether CPR would have helped her.

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