WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Continued ripples in story of 87-year-old woman in California denied CPR

Have you been following the West Coast story about the way a senior independent living facility handled an 87-year-old woman who died after a staff member declined to perform CPR last week... despite repeated emotional pleas over the telephone from a Bakersfield fire-dispatcher?

So many end-of-life issues here:

No evidence of a do-not-resuscitate order.

Yet the family insists the 87-year-old woman WANTED to live in a facility without medical staff, and didn't want life-prolonging intervention in the event of an emergency. The family insists it won't sue the facility.

By initial reports, the facility had a policy against any staff member performing CPR. The policy was just to call 9-1-1. (Which raises the intriguing question: If a resident didn't want extraordinary intervention, why call 9-1-1 at all?)

Just to be clear, independent living facilities are to be differentiated from nursing homes, which provide some level of medical care.

Now, this morning we have the news management of the facility says the woman who called in the 9-1-1 emergency misunderstood the facility's policy. Hmmm. Is management throwing the woman under the bus?

Already, some folks have called for legislation in Sacramento to prevent a repetition of this tragedy... if it is a tragedy...


Have you any experience with such issues here in our area?

You can hear my interview with medical ethicist Dr. Art Caplan (Formerly of the University of Pennsylvania), Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, and medical ethics columnist at MS NBC...

Audio Here

Posted at 7:20am on March 6, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 8:23am

Wonder if they gave CPR to Hugo Chavez?

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 12:48pm
Wow! This is a difficult story. We all lose loved ones. Hearing this story really brought back some memories.

I am a bit troubled by the family's "Oh, it's okay" attitude. It's almost like "Thank God she's dead." But, bottom line to me is this is not a story that should be nationwide. This is a local story in that locale. It's the family and the institution. It should stay there.

Allan Loudell
Wed, Mar 6, 2013 2:53pm
For the record, it now seems the family of this now deceased woman indicated support for the facility; then backpedaled; then again indicated support.

This story "had legs" as a national story, I think, initially because of a CBS affiliate getting the 9-1-1 emergency audio, in which the woman calling 9-1-1 seems more aggravated / distressed by the insistent dispatcher than the plight of the elderly woman who's dying.

The story has gone through several news cycles because of the changes noted above, and the multitude of issues raises.

Plus, we Baby Boomers are all getting "there"!

Allan Loudell

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 1:20am
This whole fiasco could have been prevented if the woman had just made out a living will and do-not-resuscitate order. I have heard in many cases that senior citizens just don't get it when it comes to taking care of the legal issues they'll leave behind to their caretakers.

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