TODAY   |  March 03, 2013

Nurse refuses to give CPR to elderly woman

“This woman’s not breathing enough, she’s going to die if we don’t get this started,” a 911 dispatcher told a nurse calling from an assisted living community. The nurse, following company policy, said she would have to wait for emergency personnel. NBC’s Veronica De la Cruz reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a nurse refused to perform cpr . you hear that headline. what really happened.

>> nice to see you. good morning, everyone. a staff member cal for help but refused to follow instructions from a 911 dispatcher as she plead for someone to help.

>> the staff at glenwood gardens in bakersfield california called 911 when an 87-year-old the dispatcher alerted the fire department , but determined there wasn't enough time. the collapsed woman needed cpr right away. but the staff at glenwood gardens not allowed to administer cpr .

>> we need to get cpr started. that's not enough, okay.

>> we can't do the cpr .

>> hand the phone to a passer by or a citizen standing by. anybody there can do cpr . give them the phone, please. i understand if your facility is not willing to do that. give the phone to that passer by or that stranger this woman is not breathing enough. she will die if we don't get this started. do you understand.

>> i understand. i am a nurse. but i cannot have our other senior citizens who don't know cpr .

>> i had instruct them. is there anyone there --

>> i cannot do that.

>> i don't understand why you are not willing to help this patient.

>> i am.

>> great. then i'll walk you through it all. ems takes the liability for this colleen. i'm happy to help you.

>> reporter: the nurse, following the facility policy, insists on waiting for the fire department to arrive.

>> i understand if your boss is telling you you cannot do it. but if there's any -- as a human being -- i don't -- you know, anybody there to willing to help this lady and not let her die?

>> not that time.

>> reporter: the patient died later that day in a hospital. the facility released a statement in port "in the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait for the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives. that is the protocol we followed." they said they will conduct a thorough interview. despite the tragic circumstances, the woman's daughter is satisfied with the care her mother received at glenwood gardens.

>> wow, it gives you pause to hear how all of that played out. i'm still processing. veronica. thank you. nice to see you this morning.