Brookdale: Staffer Who Refused CPR Misinterpreted Company Policy

The staffer at a Brookdale-operated senior living community misinterpreted company policy when she refused to obey a 911 dispatcher’s requests to administer CPR to a resident who later died, Brookdale said in a statement on Tuesday.

Last week, Lorraine Bayless, an 87-year-old resident of the Glenwood Gardens community in Bakersfield, Calif., collapsed in the dining hall and later passed away after being denied CPR by a resident services director, who told the dispatcher it was against company policy.

The release of the 911 call unleashed a barrage of national media attention. The community’s executive director initially defended the staffer’s decision, pointing out that by law, independent living communities aren’t licensed to provide medical care to residents.

“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,” executive director Jeffrey Toomer said in a statement, the AP reported. “That is the protocol we followed.”

However, the Tennesee-based senior living operator clarified its company policy in a statement released to the Associated Press on Tuesday.

“This incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents,” said the company.

The staffer is currently on voluntary leave while the case is being investigated.

In the wake of the incident, the Assisted Living Federation of America has been making the rounds to national media sources to talk about company policies regarding emergency medical care.

“It was a complete tragedy,” said Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of ALFA, to CBS. “Our members are now looking at their policies to make sure they are clear. Whether they have one to initiate (CPR) or not, they should be responsive to what the 911 person tells them to do.”

The deceased resident’s family has also issued a statement to the Associated Press saying it had no plans to sue or try to profit from the death.

“It was our beloved mother and grandmother’s wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention,” the family said. “We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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  1. says

    Since when is it against anyone's policy to help someone in need. If we are that concerned about the litigious nature of our society that we can't help someone in a life threatening situation then we need to do some real soul searching and change some laws. The arguments that the family makes, is not the way most people in this country would react. Most people would expect that some one could have come to her aid, even if it was a failed attempt, some one showed their humanity and at least tried to do something.

    When we as a society are more concerned about a law suit than a human life, we better look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, is this really a turn that we want our morals, values and principals to take? Because if it is, then we are all in trouble.

    Common sense took a beating this week, it's time for us as a people to bring it back.

    Joe Lucido
    Alzheimer's Research Association <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  2. D Wiltsee says

    Amen to Joe Lucido's comment. The combine of Brookdale, Glenwood Gardens, and Jeffrey Toomer are collectively culpable for this tragic event. At best, they failed to assure proper staff training for such emergencies, which are almost inevitable (if not predictable) in senior residence facilities. To make matters worse, they have compounded their negligence with a succession of flimsy excuses, confusing statements of company policy, and inconscionable buck-passing. A fundamental reason the elderly pay big bucks to reside in these "safe havens" is to save their lives in the event of a life threatening medical emergency. Sans that "safety net", they'd be better off saving their money and living at home alone, or with modest in-home support.

  3. PacificJack says

    The report is that the patient was made comfortable on the floor with her head tilted back to open the airway. How likely is it that more vigorous CPR would have done more harm than good with broken ribs and worse? What is the probability that she might have been revived had the instructions been followed? What were the medical qualifications of the 911 operator giving commands relative to nurse who was on the scene?

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