No charges for California nurse who refused to perform CPR
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 7:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 7:48 a.m.
BAKERSFIELD — No criminal charges will be filed after a care worker's attention-grabbing refusal to perform CPR on a resident of a Central California independent-living facility, police said.
The Bakersfield Police Department said Wednesday it has closed its investigation into the death of Lorainne Bayless, 87, who died Feb. 26 at Glenwood Gardens while a nurse there refused a 911 dispatcher's pleas to administer CPR, and ignored repeated requests to find someone else who would be willing.
Sgt. Jason Matson of the Bakersfield Police Department said Thursday the investigation had looked into whether the incident constituted elder abuse, but did not reveal criminal wrongdoing. He did not specify any other charges police examined beyond elder abuse.
"Obviously elder abuse would be the first and foremost charge that you would look at," Matson said. "There was nothing in the facts of this case that met any of the elder abuse charges."
The public release of the 7-minute recording caused national outrage, fueled further when the facility's owner claimed the nurse acted appropriately.
On Tuesday, Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc. reversed itself and said the unidentified employee had misinterpreted the company's guidelines and was on voluntary leave while the case is investigated.
Nonetheless, Bayless' family said it was her desire to forgo resuscitation efforts and that she died of natural causes, which her family said was her "greatest wish." The family said it has no intentions of suing the company or seeking punishment for its workers.
"They wish no hardship on those who were witnesses," said Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for the family. "It is natural for there to be an appropriate investigation, and if Lorraine's death helps other families to learn from it or prepare for the future, then not only was her life a great blessing, but in some small way her passing too."
Bayless collapsed in the Glenwood Gardens dining hall. Someone called 911 on a cellphone and asked for an ambulance. Later, a woman who identified herself as a nurse got on the line and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.
Halvorson implored the nurse to find someone else and said she would instruct them on how to perform CPR.
"I understand if your facility is not willing to do that," Halvorson said. "Give the phone to a passer-by. This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don't get this started, do you understand?"
By the time paramedics arrived, Bayless had stopped breathing.
Bakersfield fire officials who responded said Bayless did not have a "do not resuscitate" order on file at the home.