Readers' 12 worst nursing home EMS stories

In light of the story of the nurse in Calif. who said company policy forbid her from initiating CPR on a dying resident, we asked readers how common this was and about their EMS experiences in nursing homes

The flurry of comments surrounding the 911 audio of a dispatcher pleading with a nurse at a Calif. assisted-living facility to initiate CPR, or find someone who will, on a presumably dying patient, made us wonder just how common this is. We asked our readers to relay their horror stories of EMS calls to senior-living facilities. Below are 11 of the more compelling stories we got and one interesting solution. Feel free to share your stories in the comment section.

"I've seen patients asking the nurses to stop doing CPR on them because it hurts (yes the patient is fully awake and talking), or the patient that's been dead for at least an hour and the nurse says they just spoke with the patient 5 minutes prior." — Jason Haythorn

"I have had calls to two different homes for major medical issues and no one was even with the patient. Those that were, knew nothing about the patient or the medical issue. In both incidences, there were several RNs on duty." — Melanie Parkes

"Most of the cases I have had they are doing CPR but just not doing it right. But it's like that for most of the care in the SNF and assisted living. You get a shortness-of-breath patient and they have them on 4 lpm of oxygen via a mask so ...." — Theresa Chambers

"Most of my experiences have been a pulseless, not breathing patient, and the nurse at the desk doing transfer paperwork. No CPR. Or, they have been DOA for clearly 6 or more hours, but 'she was fine at last bed check an hour ago.'" — Tim Urquhart

"We get called a lot because they are so worried about getting sued that they refuse to help pick granny off the floor. Went in one a while back to pick up a patient they wouldn't pick up only to find said patient smoking while on oxygen sitting on the floor. Stupid." — Jason Dukes

"Most of the nursing homes and assisted-living centers in our community have a very clear policy that states they will not do CPR. I am trying to get an answer as to why." — Chris Noeldner

"I've had nurses squeezing the bag on a non-rebreather while telling us they were 'bagging' the patient. These RNs are, by and large, useless. They never have info on their own patients, they don't have any vitals on them, they can't remember the last time they saw the patient alert and oriented. Useless." — Britt Holloway

"Happens in N.J., all the time! Not sure how they get away with it." — Tom Peculski

"There are a couple places here in Wis. that have that implemented into their contracts. The patients are completely aware of it when they sign. I guess a lot are starting to switch to that because of liability. There are quite a few now that will not support CPR — even through the Good Samaritan law." — Morgan Morgan

"I have been on responses in my time that have been much like this. Complete lack of any basic care by 'trained, licensed' staff — even basic first aid. Many times we have heard that 'it's against out policy.' Sad that policy comes above care for another human being." — Scott Ziegler

"Can't say I've ever heard of something like this!" — Jeffrey Flaker

One solution

"As a nurse in a SNF in Calif., I used to get frustrated with EMS because they always looked at me like I was stupid. So I took it upon myself to take the EMT-B course at the local junior college. I figured if I knew my job and theirs, that it would make things easier on both parties. And guess what? I freaking rock now. I spoke with the DON at my facility about CEU's and asked a few FTO/Medics from the ambulance company do some teaching, and it too worked. SNF protocol (per my county and title) states that you initiate basic life support measures." — Tami Maddock


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