You may have seen this story in the news, a nurse refuses to give CPR to a dying woman. On the 911 recording, the 911 dispatcher is heard pleading for the nurse to administer CPR and save a dying woman’s life. The recording is disturbing. The nurse sounds so uncaring, citing company policy as a reason to refuse the CPR. The woman died without receiving CPR from the nurse.
This brought up a difficult issue that we, at Hanson Services have to face. Is it ever OK to NOT save a life?
The issue came up during one of today’s continuing education classes. Hanson Services C.E.O. Maryann Hanson discussed the topic with our caregivers. She explained that many of our clients have DNR (do not resuscitate) orders, and some of our clients are so frail that receiving CPR would crush their bones and cause tremendous pain.
“Often a fall doesn’t cause a broken hip, a broken hip causes a fall. That’s how fragile an elderly person can be. Administering CPR on someone so frail may not save a life, but could ultimately cause an agonizing death.”
For a caregiver, whose very nature is to preserve life and provide comfort, standing by and watching someone die is not an option. For that reason, Hanson Services has a policy in place that takes the decision making away from the caregiver and instead allows them to provide the comfort a frail dying person needs most.
Hanson Services caregivers have a support staff available to them 24 hours a day. No one person is left with a life or death decision, and no policy prohibits them from providing comfort to someone who needs it.
The nurse in the news story may not have been wrong to refuse CPR. But there is never an excuse to NOT provide comfort.