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A Nursing Home Allowed An Elderly Lady To Die...

Updated on March 4, 2013

A Nursing Home Allowed An Elderly Lady Die…

Were you to ride the trains in New York, you may likely hear that among the patrons that you should give up your seat for are the elderly; for many and I, it seems strange that there have to be announcements reminding us to do what is right concerning being courteous and respectful to our elderly - but so it is. We disrespect our elderly in our entertainment and the only love that we seem to give them is enjoyed by a few… with the television actress Betty White enjoying the bulk of such respect. But even Miss White pays for such respect by engaging in colorful profanity so as to appeal to the hip and young to maintain her ‘street cred.’ It is from this social back drop that I report what took place at a nursing home in California; I have not search for the story on You Tube, but I am certain that one could find it and he or she would see and hear an elderly home nurse refusing to give CPR to one of her female patrons who had an apparent heart attack… and no matter how the emergency operator begged the nurse to perform CPR or have someone assist, the nurse refused because it was the policy of the nursing home not to perform CPR and needless to say, the elderly patient died by the time the emergency personnel reached her.

What is surprising is that when the dead elderly patient’s daughter was told about what had taken place, the daughter told the reporters that she was satisfied with how the nursing home had treated her mother - unbelievable. I do not know if the surprising outrage of the general public (since we know about) will compel the daughter to be less cavalier in her reaction to her mother’s death, notwithstanding that her mother was 87-years-old, but as an attorney, I would like to see the contractual language in the nursing home’s contract that trumped the Hippocratic Oath, which allowed for the elderly lady to succumb to a heart attack. I know of the no resuscitate clause… but the scenario I described above seemed callous and uncivilized. We will find out shortly if the surviving daughter’s love will suddenly be manifested borne out of the lucrative law suit that can be had - what lawyer, worth his legal salt, representing the nursing home would allow this case to see the inside of a trial court room. It is true the daughter may have deemed her mother’s death as a form of euthanasia, but the mercy killing was far from merciful… leaving the elderly victim on the floor in pain, without any medication to palliate the pangs of the heart attack.

When I first met my wife to be… she eventually took me home to meet her mother; and, upon meeting my mother-in-law to be, the latter told me that her daughter told her not to say anything to me that would offend Israel, America, and the elderly, though not necessarily in that order. My wife to be went on to explain to my mother-in-law to be the reasons why I loved Israel, America, and the elderly, chalking up my being positively biased for the elderly to the fact that I was raised by a grandmother until I was sixteen - but even if one were not raised by an elderly loved one, one still could empathize with what happened in that California nursing home. Are we going to stop making fun of the elderly in our pop culture - no, not when it has become a lucrative cottage industry and that it has been paying dividends for a long time now… and I do not see us emulating the Japanese or the Germans in the respectful way that they treat their elderly. I once read where it said that: ‘Once a man/woman and twice a child…’ and I could only imagine the treatment of those elderly who are unfortunate and have become ‘children’ again and are placed in nursing homes and the like.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a business problem where the employee did what she was told. The fact that the woman did not have a do not resuscitate order, means it will probably go to court. Everything will come down to documentation and who knew what. Then the debate of moral obligations and liability might happen. Such moral issues face countless employees all over the place. In fact every employee has no idea if they can do CPR if they are at work and could be fired if they guess wrong.

    • RavenBiker profile image


      5 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

      The elderly woman did not live in a nursing home as you claim. She lived in an assisted living facility which is not geared for medical emergencies like nursing homes are.

      Second, the administering of CPR to the elderly is a very bad idea. Their lives may be saved for the moment but the injuries CPR may cause can be life threatening to the elderly.

      Third, the elderly woman's daughter had a change of heart once she heard the 9-11 call recording. This story is still fresh and more may come.

      Fourth, the 9-11 operator certainly had done her job. My personal sense is that the contrast in demeanor between the care giver and the 9-11 operator is what's giving fuel to all this outrage. In the end, the care giver did have a choice to make ---risk injuring the elderly woman (which is not a legal prosecutable issue in this instance) or keep her job. She was following the rules of her employer, after all. If anything, outrage ought to be levied on the employer. Not the care giver.

      And finally, because of this story, it is clear that one is not legally obligated to help in such an instance. However, if they start to help, do know you are obligated to continue helping until you own health and safety is clearly at risk. The moral obligation, is another and separate issue altogether. It is also one that cannot be easily defended or prosecuted. The question we should ask ourselves in light of the outrage, what would you do? Or better yet, why are we so quick to judge when we were not involved?


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