So I ran accross this
this morning. I
scrolled down, and read the comments, and was appalled at the general concensus of public opinion. At least as represented by the readers.
The article is about a nurse that did not perform CPR on an 87 year old woman who collapsed in an assisted living center. Evidently the 911 operator
pleaded with her, but she was following corporate policy.
At face value the article is a drama piece at best. There is not enough information to base judgement on. Yet there were plenty of people calling for
a lynching of the nurse. As a nurse myself I can tell you there is a 99.9% chance the nurse did exacty as she should. The woman's daughter who is a
nurse even said she was happy with her mother's care.
The outrage expressed by the readers I believe comes from one of several misconceptions: First that CPR "saves" people, and had it been performed
the outcome would have been different. Not true. The average long term survival rate for someone that has CPR administered is about 3%-5%. So CPR
saves about 5 in 100 on a good day. With youth drownings being the only exception to that rule. CPR definitely saves lives in healthy drowning
victims. The survival rate of 87 year olds with multiple comorbidities is essentially zero. CPR would have made no difference.
The next misconception is that CPR is like on TV. No, No, No... Blood, urine, feces, and other wonderful body fluids fly everywhere, it is painful,
it is invasive, it is not dignified, and it's a hell of a bad way to go. If CPR is done correctly you break ribs, and it hurts! When EMTs arrive, and
begin advanced support the endotracheal tube shoved down your throat hurts, and makes you gag. The big bore needles we shove in your arm, or groin, or
neck hurt. You get a tube in your pee hole, and sometimes a tube through your nose into your stomach. Does that sound like a peaceful, dignified way
When you are 87, and ready to accept your fate as a mortal human will you really want a society that demands we torture you with whatever is
necessary to extend the length of your life regardless of how miserable that life is?
The next misconception is that 911 operators are medical personel, they are not. They deal with any, and everything. They are Jack's of all trades,
but masters of none. They are also human, and have emotions. Just because a 911 operator pleaded with the nurse does not make those pleas reasonable
when the nurse likely had intimate knowledge of the situation, and the operator was isolated in a call room with very little information, or risk to
Had the nurse performed CPR she would have violated policy. Which was there for a reason, and obviously agreed with by the resident, and her family.
She would have lost her job, and the resident would have more than likely died anyway.
What scares me is the public's cavalier attitude about our jobs, and responsibilities as nurses. Does the general public really want nurses to throw
away a stable job to appease their arbitrary feelings? Even though no real good would come of it? Torture an 87 year old woman during her final
moments, just so public opinion can be appeased?
I even heard people saying they thought the nurse should be tried for murder. Ridiculous!!! She obvioulsy did as her patient, and the family wanted,
and followed company policy. Yet all the armchair commentators who have never waded in blood, and feces are screaming for her head. 87 isn't old
enough? If she was satisfied with her life she deserves the right to die with comfort, and dignity. If that pisses off the average american idiot, SO
WHAT!!! We as nurses advocate for our patients first. It is patient centered, patient focused, and if public opinion doesn't like it. Get over it.
When it's your turn your opinion will change. I have seen it a thousand times before. I have seen family members yell, and scream for everything to
be done for a loved one. Then a year or two later get a terminal diagnosis themselves, and immediately go on hospice care, and die in comfort.
HYPOCRITES!!! The ultimate selfishness to demand a loved one die in pain so YOU can have a little more time with them. Then want comfort for yourself
when dying. All people deserve the right to die in comfort, and with dignity, and have their wishes respected. Just because we can bring someone back
for a little while doesn't mean it is the ethical thing to do.
No mention was made of the resident's resuscitation status. Frankly it is none of our business. Her family also has the right to privacy, and
dignity while grieving the loss of a family matriarch. If the family, and facility have no issue with the nurses actions, she acted appropriately, and
personal opinion about it is irrelevant. If you want to be pounded on, stabbed, and tortured in your last few moments in a vain effort to kick your
corpse back to life for a 5% chance at a few futile, painful days, or weeks then you can do that on your way out, and waste a couple hundred thousand
dollars in medical funding if you want. It seems these people had their heads, and hearts in the right place at the right time. Were she 27 with a
good chance of recovery then the story would be completely different. When I'm 87 and ready to go don't you dare bring me back. Death is the result
of life. Our immaturity as a species should not rob people of making the transition naturally, and smoothly. Life is precious, and should be defended,
and that includes dignity when life ends, as all life does.