Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yesterday on the way home from work I had the opportunity to hear the disturbing phone call that I had heard people discussing. Apparently as many of you may have heard, 87 year old Lorraine Bayless collapsed at a senior living community. The nurse on duty at the time refused to offer assistance to the woman because it was the center’s policy to not provide CPR, but to dial 911 and wait with the person until help arrives.

During the phone call I heard the 911 operator plead with the nurse to offer assistance to the lady. The nurse calmly refused and explained the center’s policy. The 911 operator was clearly outraged and the call escalated to her explaining if someone doesn’t do something the woman will die. She then proceeded to ask the nurse point blank if there was someone there that would be willing to assist the woman and not allow her to die. At this point the nurse once again in a calm manner stated, “Not at this time.” The center has defended the nurse’s actions to this point.

I know there are many people out there that may understand the nurse’s point-of-view based on policy and this lawsuit happy society that we live in. And I realize that at some point had she done something other than what policy called for she may have placed her job in jeopardy. Obviously she would have jeopardized her job if the center is currently defending her position now to not offer assistance. However, I cannot help but wonder at what point do we stop upholding policy regulations and allow the human side of us to step up? Has our society become so hardened that we cannot see beyond regulations and lawsuits? Have we become so lawsuit happy that everyone is scared to do what is right for fear of being sued or losing their job? I understand our jobs have regulations in place for a reason and I am all for abiding by them; however, when in life or death is in question there comes a time to make a choice. What will the choice be?
In an effort not to judge anyone (although nearly impossible in this situation) I don’t get it. We are talking about a human life, a living breathing human being with feelings and the right to share this little piece of Earth that you and I share. My mother-in-law is in hospice care and although she has been in her field for decades, and is a very strong woman whom I greatly admire, it still tears at her heart when she loses a patient. Yet, there are some in the health care field and in the world in general that have become so callous that nothing moves them anymore. I believe that I would have just had to place my job in jeopardy rather than stand by allowing that person to die, and this holds especially true if I were a trained professional in the medical field to provide assistance and save lives. What is the point of going into the medical field if not to make a difference?

My question to you is at what point do we stop being cold and callous and allow our innate human nature to take over? What would you have done in this instance?




  1. I heard this story on the news and it just broke my heart. My father was in a nursing home and I am not sure what I would have done if I found out they didn't offer him CPR because of policy. I hope this is something that they disclose to the family so that they are aware that if something should happen, assistance will not be given on the part of the staff. I could not work in an environment like that because my nature, I would have wanted to help her. But the medical field can be very cold and callous. To many in the field, your loved one is just another body in the bed until it hits home for them and it's their mother,father or other loved one laying there. Very sad......

    1. I think as a society as a whole we must learn to be caring in all situations. If we place the human side of us first at all times it will be easier when faced with issues such as this one. I too hope they would disclose this stipulation to the family members.


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