An 87-year-old Independent Living Facility resident died Tuesday after the facility staff refused to render CPR - even while a 911 operator pleaded with the employee to administer aid.
According to the Los Angeles Times report, Lorraine Bayless, 87, died after a "nurse" employed by Glenwood Gardens (Bakersfield) told the 911 operator that facility policy prevented staff from administering CPR to residents.
The news reports are referring to the staff person as a "nurse," but I could not find independent corroboration that the employee was a trained nurse. However, I did find that Glenwood Gardens has a previous incident that should have been cause for alarm.
In 2008, Glenwood Gardens received a $100,000 fine - the maximum allowable - after the center's Skilled Nursing Facility allowed an 84-year-old Alzheimer's patient to choke to death on a ketchup packet. State investigators determined that the man had dementia and a history of attempting to eat non-edible objects. The facility failed to develop a care plan for the man, which led to his death in December 2006. The Incident Report states that, although the man was experiencing life-threatening symptoms, the facility did nothing for 12 hours until the man died.
The previous incident sheds some light on Glenwood Gardens' defense that Bayless' death last week occurred at an Independent Living Facility - where they claim to have no duty to provide emergency medical assistance. While that may be true, the 2006 death occurred in the SNF where they did have such a duty. The problems at Glenwood Gardens go beyond the standard of care.
In fact, I suspect that the hands-off policy may be related to the previous fine. It's just the kind of policy that an attorney might recommend to avoid responsibility for the next time the facility allows someone to die.
In my practice, I work with many seniors who are headed into an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing environment. Our firm always recommends that families conduct a thorough background check on a facility before placing a loved one there. And, there is absolutely zero chance that I would recommend placing anyone in the care of a facility with a history of death by staff indifference. This most recent incident shows exactly why.