Bureaucracy Trumps Morality: Nurse Lets Woman Die Because Of Policy Prohibiting CPR


Yesterday news broke of a nurse at a California nursing home who let an elderly woman die rather than perform CPR on her despite pleas from a 911 operator begging the nurse, or anyone standing by, to perform the procedure.

Here’s the back story, and the heart-breaking audio of the 911 call:

The idea of a nucring home policy preventing a trained medical professional from assisting someone having a health emergency with a procedure as simple as CPR is monstrous on its very face. I can’t imagine what possible excuse there could be for the policy. It is, in a word, indefensible.

“I understand if your boss is telling you, you can’t do it,” the dispatcher said. “But … as a human being … you know, is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

“Not at this time,” the nursing home employee answered without emotion.

That ends a chill down my spine.

It should be noted that the nursing home is now claiming that the nurse in question wasn’t actually a nurse, but the woman identified herself during the 911 call as a nurse and the nursing home won’t comment on whether or not the woman is licensed as a nurse. So, she was probably a nurse but wasn’t acting as a nurse at that time. Which seems to me to be a distinction without a difference.

What troubles me more is what this portends for our society as a whole, because in this incident I think we’re getting a glimpse of the future of health care in America. As policies such as Obamacare make health care more bureaucratic, as government and private sector bureaucrats impose a dizzying maze of regulations on health care intended to address a cost explosion that is very much a result of other government regulations, I think the grim spectacle of someone being allowed to die for want of care prohibited by one policy or another is going to become more familiar to us.

As the government takes a firmer grip on health care, managing it more thoroughly for the greater good, these individual tragedies will become more common.