The 9-1-1 call of a dispatcher pleading with a nurse to help a dying 87-year-old woman is prompting outrage and an investigation. That elderly woman died as the nurse stood by and refused to perform CPR, citing the facility's policy.
One California lawmaker says the incident was a wakeup call and is investigating. But can the same situation happen in Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability, just like California, retirement homes in Texas aren't licensed and workers aren't required to perform CPR. It's up to each retirement facility whether or not to have such a policy.
At the Age of Central Texas, the Adult Day Health Care program sees about 45 seniors a day. The nonprofit helps people grow old. Adult day health care is just like daycare for children. Members are dropped off in the morning and picked up in the evening. Activities and meals are provided.
Teri Eidelbach is the full time nurse.
"I've never worked for a facility that they didn't allow the nurses to code. We do have a little Nightingale Oath to harm none," Eidelbach said.
Eidelbach is in her 30th year as a nurse. In November, she saved a 56-year-old woman's life by using CPR. She says if members have a do not resuscitate order, Eidelbach says it has to be the state recognized version. So when she heard about the nurse who refused to perform CPR, she was baffled.
Here's part of that 911 call.
Operator: "We need to get CPR started that's not enough, okay."
Caller: "Yeah we can't do CPR."
Operator: "Then hand the phone to the passerby."
The nurse states that performing CPR is against the facility's policy. Residents agree to that policy when they move in.
The 9-1-1 operator begs the nurse to help.
Operator: "As a human being I don't you know is there anybody there that is willing to help this lady and not let her die?"
Caller: "Not at this time"
Operator: "They won't touch her at all"
Operator: "Is there a gardener or any staff anybody that doesn't work for you anywhere can we flag someone down on the street and get them to help this lady."
Cecilia Cavuto with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability says it was shocking. She also says this incident shows just how important it is to ask lots of questions before making a decision about retirement homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
"In Texas though, facilities, even licenses facilities such as those we regulate do have the option of not providing CPR however, they're required to notify individuals during the admissions policy process," Cavuto said.
She goes on to say if you're looking for long term care of any kind, you need to visit several facilities several times during the day and night Also, speak with different staff members. And remember to ask if loved ones need CPR, who would do the procedure.
The agency only regulates assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Retirement homes are not licensed.