Monday, March 04, 2013

What Value A Human Life?

The problem with my style of blogging, which seems to lean toward finding fault and wondering why there seems to be so much, is there is never a dearth of subject matter. It isn't always political either.

Today I'm going to lament the decline of human decency, compassion and the lack of value of a human life.

Just a few weeks ago 28 people met their end due to the slaughter at Sandy Hook.  Most of them children.  The populace was so upset it got the politicians off their duffs and over reacting as usual.  I don't think it was the numbers as much as it was mostly children.

Let's reverse the situation.  What of one person lay dying and twenty eight people stood around and did nothing? I can't be sure of that figure of 28, but it was a good many.  Staff.  In the dining room of an independent living facility an 87 year old woman collapsed while staff, including a nurse, did nothing other than call 911. The nurse refused to administer CPR as did all others watching.

The dispatcher pleaded with them, begged them, asked if there wasn't someone they could flag down to help.  No.  Wasn't anybody willing to help the lady?  She even assured the nurse no one would be held liable if the CPR didn't work. No matter.  "Not at this time," the nurse replied.

By the time the EMTs arrived it was too late.  The woman died.

This bothers me on a number of levels.  One because it happened in an assisted living facility.  The reason people go to them is to live, not to die! Would no one have utilized the Heimlich Maneuver if she had been choking? As I get closer to the age when I may have to look at such an alternative, it scares me to death!  That's probably not the best phrase I could have chosen, but  I now have a deeper understanding as to why the elderly resist such moves.  Not only does it take them from their homes and comfort zones, they don't trust them.  Small wonder.

When questioned, the administrator defended the nurse saying she followed protocol.  They call 911 and wait for help to come.  And allow a person to die.  What have we become?  Sheep?  No.  Sheep are benign and not too bright.  We've become worse.  Monsters of a sort that would stick to a rule and allow someone to die.  Even when their own lives were in no way endangered. Where is the common sense?  Where is the line between right and wrong?

One has to sign a contract to reside in such a dwelling.  The executive director informed the media each resident is informed of the policy before they move in.  To make the story even worse, the policy does not apply to the assisted living and skilled nursing facility adjacent to it. Do you have to live in an assisted living facility to get assistance to live?  In my mind each and every person witness to this episode is guilty of murder and should be so treated.

There is a lesson to be learned, for sure.  Always read the fine print then run, limp, even crawl away from it as fast as possible if such a clause is to be found!  I ask you, is what happened here any less horrific than the loss of the 28 in Sandy Hook?  Too bad you can't ask the dead.


Word Tosser said...

I read that too.. and saw it on Good Morning America... there were some unanswered questions.. Like was there a directive written by the woman.. a do nothing, no CPR, and etc. If there was, then legally they can't. But one has to wonder.. if there was such a paper, then why did they call 911 in the first place. Also they said the family was fine with the way it all went.. so that is why I was wondering if there was a directive. Sure was a weird occurance. Working in a health care center for 17 years, I know that there have been times we were to stand by.. as we could be sued if we did not honor the paper filled out by that resident. But again, I don't understand why she called 911 in the first place IF.. IF... that was the case.

Mari Meehan said...

When I read the article there had been no comment from the family. Even if the lady had a do not resuscitate order, the staff in the dining room would not necessarily have known about it and the normal reaction would have been to call 911 and follow their directions. One cannot obey an order if one doesn't know it exists. If the nurse did know why didn't she inform the 911 operator?

That the family was okay with the outcome seems to me a separate matter from what the proper procedure in an emergency should have been.