When I first heard this story, I had the same reaction as many other FireRescue1 readers: How could a (presumably trained) medical professional willingly refuse to do CPR on a dying patient?
Now, however, as I understand it from further media reports that both the patient and her family were aware of, and agreed with, the facility's stated no-CPR policy.
From my own experience as an EMS provider — and after losing my father and step-father to terminal illnesses, both of whom executed Do Not Resuscitate orders — I know how difficult it is to stand at the bedside and watch someone take their last breaths. But I also know that it's our duty, even beyond saving lives, to respect our patients' wishes regarding the type and level of treatment(s) they receive.
I think there are a few important lessons here:
First, of course, is making sure we have all the facts of a particular case before rushing to judgment. We've all been in situations where the facts aren't readily apparent to an outside observer and we probably all (myself included) can use a reminder on that score.
Second, for those of us who are EMS providers at any level — including, as this story demonstrates, just CPR-trained — it's important to understand our state's specific laws, regulations and standard of care for addressing patients' advance directives, DNR orders, hospice practices, etc. These can be emotionally charged and difficult situations; it's vital to know what you can, and can't, do to provide care without violating the patients' wishes.
Third, as hard as it is, we probably should think about what our own wishes might be if placed in such a situation; and ensure the proper communication is accomplished (in advance) with our families and care providers.