This week, Andy Dean and Justin Leto dedicated the entire segment to an egregious case of Elder Abuse, nursing home negligence and medical malpractice. The usually conservative Andy Dean agreed that this case does not deserve the protections of the tort reform movement.
An elderly woman who was a resident of an assisted living facility in Bakersfield, California began to have difficulty breathing. A nurse at the Glendale Gardens home called 9-1-1 to report that the resident was having trouble breathing. As the call continued, it was obvious to the 9-1-1 operator that the elderly woman needed to be given CPR immediately. The 9-1-1 operator asked the caller, who identified herself as a nurse, to begin administering CPR and, callously, the nurse refused. Instead, the nurse told the operator that Glendale Gardens’ policies prohibited her from providing vital, life saving CPR to this dying woman. The 9-1-1 operator became desperate, practically begging the nurse to perform CPR and when she continued to refuse, the operator asked that she find a stranger or a passer-by that would be willing to try and save this woman. This agonizing and disturbing phone call went on for 7 long minutes, and when EMS finally arrived, the elderly woman was dead.
Now, the State of California is investigating whether a crime was committed. Andy and Justin discussed this case in terms of the civil implications. Justin explained that, as a nurse who works at the facility, the caller had a duty to perform CPR on this dying woman. Not only was the decision to withhold CPR certain medical malpractice, it was likely gross negligence, careless indifference to the suffering of that woman, and could even amount to a crime.
Medical negligence does not just arise from a mistake in performing a medical service. Medical malpractice can also arise from the omission of an act that would have avoided the injury or death. In this case, this elderly woman lay dying on the ground and this caller, who identified herself as a nurse, just let her lie there and die.
Aside from the disgraceful facts of this case, Andy and Justin also briefly touched on medical malpractice reform and whether limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits is a good thing. Andy maintained his stance that medical malpractice cases need to be limited, but he admitted that this was a case that required some type of exception. What Andy, and most supporters of medical malpractice reform fail to recognize is that the grand idea of medical malpractice reform may sound good in theory, but cases like this one are not all that uncommon. In the real world, there are good doctors and bad doctors. And, like any profession, even good doctors make mistakes. Medical malpractice reform allows people like this nurse to feel insulated from consequences. If you know that you cannot be sued if you commit malpractice, you may not be as concerned with doing your job the right way.
The Leto Law Firm is a Florida personal injury firm specializing in Florida medical malpractice, Florida traumatic brain injury cases, and Florida wrongful death cases.