BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Bakersfield Police Department is investigating a local senior living facility after a controversial 911 call revealed a nurse refused to perform CPR on an elderly woman, who later died. The tape raises new questions about whether CPR is successful in older patients.
Bakersfield Police say their preliminary investigation found no signs of criminal misconduct, but the investigation continues. 17 News has learned the coroner will not perform an investigation into 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless's death.
"People are a little bit more reluctant to perform airway maneuvers, so you're seeing the American Heart Association move away from that and toward chest compressions only, in hopes more people are willing to do CPR," said Dr. Rick McPheeters, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Kern Medical Center.
Dr. Rick McPheeters said there is no age limit for CPR. "If a patient is in cardiac arrest to where they need CPR, the alternative is just letting them die," he explained.
The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer complications from CPR, including fractured ribs. "But, you have to weigh the pros and cons and the risks and benefits. The benefits outweigh the risks, which are the chance of survival," said McPheeters.
"In the issue of CPR, anybody that goes without oxygen for approximately four to six minutes, brain cell tissue damage may occur," said Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza, Bakersfield City Fire Department.
Bayless collapsed Tuesday in the dining room at Glenwood Gardens and was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to a report from the Bakersfield Fire Department, Bayless did not have a "Do Not Resuscitate Order."
The staff refused to do CPR and said it's against the facility's policy.
"It's a very nice place in Bakersfield. Sometimes we refer to it as the Taj Mahal," said Nona Tolentino, Kern County Ombudsman Program.
The Kern County Ombudsman Program responds to allegations of elderly abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities.
"I will say, at best, the policy may not be appropriate for everyone," said Tolentino.