Watch CBS News

Staff At Senior Living Home Refuses To Perform CPR On Dying Woman

LOS ANGELES ( — The staff of a Bakersfield senior living facility refused to do CPR on a dying woman.

The 911 tapes reveal an operator desperately trying to get the staff to help the 87-year-old woman -- but they refused.

The incident happened Tuesday at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield. The woman died at a hospital.

CBS2/KCal9's Brittney Hopper reports it's an important story for anyone with a loved one in an independent living facility.

A 911 dispatcher says, "Are we just going to wait and let this lady die?"

A nurse at the facility replies, "Well, that's why we're calling 911."

The 911 dispatcher said, "We need to get CPR started" to which the nurse said, "They're refusing CPR. They're going to let her just die."

The dispatcher implores the nurse to help. And the nurse explains it's against facility policy for staff to administer CPR.

The 911 dispatcher has trouble believing this. "I understand your boss is telling you you can't do it but if there's anybody, a human being, I don't, is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

The nurse said, "Um, not at this time."

Hopper played the 911 tape for Doctor Thomas Horowitz -- a medical ethicist. He says he's disgusted. "Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. I'm disappointed in a facility that would dis-empower it's people to help rather than to help."

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens tells CBS2 News its policies is not to provide medical care. A statement they provided to us says, in part, "In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives."

"As an employee of a licensed skilled nursing facility they are obligated to do more than call 911 and watch aunt Gladys die," said CBS2 Legal Analyst Steve Meister.

The state calls Glenwood Gardens a "skilled nursing facility" and Meister says regardless of the facility's policies there are state and federal obligations and the facility could face many lawsuits including criminal charges.

"Every person in the facility and the owner of the facility could be looking at license revocation from the state and they could be charged criminally on the theory of homicide," Meister said.

Doctor Horowitz says the nurse on the tape had an obligation to at least try to save the woman's  life. "From the bio ethics viewpoint what should she have done? Something! What did she do? Embarrassed all of us who are licensed health care professionals."

Hopper talked to the dead woman's daughter by phone. She said her mother had been at the facility for three years and was in good care. The woman also said that even if her mother had received CPR, she doesn't think she would have survived.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.