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March 04, 2013

California Nursing Home Permits 87-Year-Old Woman To Die Rather Than Render Simple CPR, Because It's Their "Policy"

Oh, it's your policy? I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was your policy. Certainly if you have a "policy" you are justified in permitting a woman under your care to die without taking any action to help her at all.

California retirement home is backing one of its nurses after she refused desperate pleas from a 911 operator to perform CPR on an elderly woman who later died, saying the nurse was following the facility's policy.

"Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die," dispatcher Tracey Halvorson says on a 911 tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department aired by several media outlets on Sunday.

"Not at this time," said the nurse, who didn't give her full name and said facility policy prevented her from giving the woman medical help.

...

Halvorson pleads for the nurse to perform CPR, and after several refusals she starts pleading for her to find a resident, or a gardener, or anyone not employed by the home to get on the phone, take her instructions and help the woman.

"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."

The nursing home defended the inaction, claiming it was a "policy" that nurses should only call 911 and otherwise render no aid themselves.

Let's take a look at this.

First off, a "policy" exists to protect the institution promulgating that policy, not to help anyone else.

So when a company says "We're just following policy," they mean "We're just following a protocol we created to protect our own interests."

This is no kind of defense or justification. Yes, I know you were ruthlessly pursuing your own self-interest in permitting a woman to die. Having a "policy" about ruthlessly pursuing your own self-interest in permitting a woman to die doesn't sanctify that as a noble or even acceptable.

Saying "We have a policy" is just a euphemism for "We've collectively decided to look out for ourselves instead of others."

The other thing I get from this is how far we're going in this society to prioritize Inaction over Action. Of course the nursing home has this policy to protect itself from lawsuit -- the threat of lawsuits compels people to let people die in the street. Inaction -- letting someone die -- is a favored position, legally, over Action. If you Act, you may get sued. If you don't act, it's harder to get sued.

(Although in this case I think they'll discover they're damned either way, but the general point about Inaction being favored over Action still stands.)

Look at all the hurdles and obstacles the State puts in your way if you wish to start a simple business. The sort of business that 60 years ago no one thought you needed state permission to operate.

At every turn our society, through its laws, is transmitting the idea that Inaction -- and sloth, and reliance on the state, and acceptance of one's status, and fearing the consequences of action -- is preferred to Action.

You don't have to be an anthropologist to guess that when the state sets about at criminalizing most things and hyperregulating whatever's left, it creates an environment in which the average person begins with the presumption that I ought better not do that rather than the mindset our Founding Father gifted us with: I am free do do practically anything, save the few things which are obviously criminal.

And you don't have to be a conspiracist to notice this is exactly the sort of mindset the totalitarian state prefers in its citizens.

Bodies drained of blood cause no problems for the State, except for warehousing.

Compare to den Beste's posts noting that citizens are more and more required to seek permission of the State to do things they just should be able to do, and to offer a justification for simply exercising their freedoms.

At every turn, we're asked: How does it help society that you should be free to do this thing? And we have to offer some rationale wherein we increase the social good by having a freedom.

Does freedom really require a justification at every turn? Why does freedom require an affirmative defense, whereas prohibition -- the reduction of citizen freedom and the increase of power in the State -- is presumptively the correct position and wins on all ties?

Should the prohibitionists, not the freedom-seekers, be required to justify themselves, with the default assumption going to the freedom-seekers?

Dangerous, dark, dispiriting times.

It will not turn out well. (It never does, he added morosely.)

Via ‏@johnondrasik of Five For Fighting.

Please Excuse This Up-and-Down Post: I stomped on LauraW's strong post, so I wanted to give that time at the top, and now I'm recycling this back up to the top.

More: This kid has learned a valuable lesson. And that lesson is take no mirth in anything, do not do anything except what Teacher tells you you may do, and generally do absolutely nothing whatsoever, because doing things is a very risky proposition.

Via @dloesch


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posted by Ace at 02:28 PM

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