An 87-year-old woman died at a California senior living facility after a nurse
refused to administer CPR, saying it was against her company's policy to
perform CPR on residents.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, which licenses the state's assisted living and personal care facilities, said it's a scenario that likely wouldn't happen here.
"In adult care licensing in Pennsylvania, anyone who is able to perform CPR must perform CPR," said Donna Kirker Morgan.
Heritage Hill Senior Community employees are well aware of the rule, said Denise Langman, executive director of the Weatherly facility. Staffers, she said, are reminded of it during frequent training and recertification courses.
"All our policies are based on the state regulations," said Langman.
According to regulations, facilities must have at least one CPR-trained staff person on duty for every 50 residents.
"All our direct care staff, which would include nursing, activities staff and van drivers, as well as any ancillary staff, who may want to have first aid" and CPR training are given the opportunity to take the classes, Langman said. She estimated that 95 percent of the staff is CPR-certified.
The only case when CPR isn't required is when a person has a do-not-resuscitate order, Kirker Morgan said. The CPR regulations have been in effect at Pennsylvania personal care homes since 2005 and at assisted living facilities since 2012.
Kirker Morgan said penalties are assessed on facilities and individuals who violate the regulations.
"If the situation described in this article had happened in Pennsylvania, the facility would be cited for a regulatory violation and the nurse would be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of State for investigation," she said.
According to reports, the California woman took ill Feb. 26 in the dining room of a multi-level care retirement home. Some reports say she resided in an independent living building, which California officials compared to a senior apartment complex.
The Associated Press reported that the nurse called 911 but refused to perform CPR after the dispatcher pleaded with her to do so. The nurse mentioned a company policy that requires staff to rely on outside emergency responders in such situations. The dispatcher unsuccessfully asked the nurse to find someone else to help the woman.
By the time emergency personnel arrived, the woman had no pulse, according to published reports.
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