Did the nurse who refused to perform CPR on an elderly woman break any obligations?

Attorney: No laws were broken

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Did the nurse who refused to perform CPR to an elderly woman break any obligation to help?

Those spoken to said by not rendering any physical aid, the nurse may have broken a moral and ethical obligation, but not the law.

Attorney David Stiles said the nurse at Glenwood Gardens who refused to administer CPR to a resident did not break the law.

"California does not impose a legal duty to help that person," said Stiles.  "However, there is immunity.  There is the Good Samaritan Law."

The Good Samaritan Law is a standard under the Health and Safety Code that said if you in good faith render medical aid to someone who needs it, then you are protected from being sued if anything goes wrong.

But a nurse that 23ABC spoke with said that only applies to peopel without medical knowledge and people in the medical field who are off the clock.

If you are in the medical field, at work and your employer's policy does not allow you to perform certain duties, like in this case CPR, then the employer's policy trumps the Good Samaritan Law.  

If the nurse were to perform CPR at that moment, while at work, she would not be legally protected by her employer's insurance (because she broke policy) and she would not be protected by the Good Samaritan Law (because she was at work).


Assemblyman Rudy Salas said he's looking into changing legislation to clarify these regulations.

The dispatcher on the line even said she would assume responsibility if the nurse performed CPR--releasing the nurse and the facility from liability--but that does not guarantee legal protection.

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