San Diego residents may have heard about an important piece of legislation that was recently sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature of approval. The new bill makes it illegal for nursing homes and medical facilities to adopt policies that prohibit employees from providing life-saving measures to endangered or dying patients. The bill should provide important protection for nursing home patients, as well as nursing home employees who may now have further legal protection in cases in which they attempt life-saving CPR or other emergency medical responses.
The bill came after a shocking incident of purported nursing home neglect that occurred in a California retirement home in February. The incident began when an elderly woman collapsed and stopped breathing. The attending nurse called 911 and requested emergency services, but refused to perform CPR on the woman as she slipped further and further out of consciousness. The 87-year-old woman eventually passed away.
The infamous 911 call was recorded, and made national headlines and shocked people who couldn't believe the nurse was willing to sit there and let a helpless woman die. In the call the 911 operator implores the nurse to begin emergency breathing techniques on the woman, but the nurse refuses, saying that her employer's policy prohibited her from doing so.
Senior citizens and nursing home patients are entitled to a reasonable standard of care, and it shocks the conscience to think that employers would have a rule that might cause an employee to think twice before providing emergency medical help for fear of violating company policy. This new law is a step in the right direction for patients' rights and to prevent further instances of nursing home neglect.
Source: Bakersfield Now "Bill from Bakersfield lawmaker would make it illegal to bar life-saving help," Juliet Williams, Sept. 4, 2013