nurse refuses (actually, is barred from) doing CPR, woman dies

Nurse complies with policy that forbids her from doing CPR on a woman; the woman dies.

This is becoming a typical scenario: do the right thing at your own risk, or comply with policy to save your own skin. Had the nurse defied policy and helped the woman, she may have been fired for her actions. Her inaction is awarded and defended, even though it’s arguably contrary to our moral sensibilities.

Quoting the article, which quotes the 911 (emergency) dispatcher:

“Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady?” Halvorson says on the call. “Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her.”

I don’t blame the nurse. Maybe she’s a coward, but perhaps she feared getting fired and she has a family to feed. The problem is “the system” and perhaps even our culture; but those are murky abstractions, and fixing either is a task beyond anyone’s reach.

However, one place to start might be to extend any existing “Good Samaritan” laws (laws which protect people from civil liability for helping others but who in some cases do harm in the process of attempting to help) to protect from wrongful termination from employment in cases like the above. It’s hard to say what impact that would have, but it would be a start.

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