CPR Refusal Death: Police Investigate Nurse

Police have launched an investigation after a US nurse refused pleas by an emergency call operator to perform CPR on an elderly woman - who later died.

The nurse has been defended by bosses at the Californian retirement home, following the death there of the woman named in reports as Lorraine Bayless, 87.

At the beginning of the emergency call, the nurse - who did not give her full name - asked for paramedics to come and help the woman, who had collapsed in the home's dining room and was barely breathing.

Dispatcher Tracey Halvorson can be heard in a recording of the call pleading for the nurse to perform CPR.

After several refusals Ms Halvorson asks her to find a resident, a gardener or anyone not employed by the home to get on the phone, take her instructions and help the woman.

"Is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die," Ms Halvorson says on the 911 recording released by the Bakersfield Fire Department.

"Not at this time," said the nurse, who added that the home's rules prevented her from giving medical help to the woman.

"Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady?" Ms Halvorson went on.

"Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her."

Ms Bayless was later declared dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital, officials said.

Bakersfield Polce said they were investigating whether there had been any criminal wrongdoing.

The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse's actions, saying she had followed policy.

He said in a statement: "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 with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives.

"That is the protocol we followed."

Mr Toomer offered condolences to the woman's family and said a "thorough internal review" of the incident would be conducted.

He told KGET-TV that residents are informed of the policy and agree to it when they move in.

He said the policy does not apply at the adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation , is a first-aid technique involving chest compressions and sometimes rescue breaths that can be used if a person is not breathing properly or if their heart has stopped.

All states in the US have versions of the Good Samaritan Law, which grants immunity to those administering CPR in good faith.

In California, it is granted to those trained in CPR and "who in good faith, renders emergency CPR at the scene of an emergency," those who provide such training, and those who provide instruction.

However, the law is vague as to whether "non-certified" responders are granted immunity protection when administering CPR.