St. Petersburg, Florida — A St. Petersburg nursing home is fined tens of thousands of dollars for keeping one of its residents alive, violating a Do Not Resuscitate order.
Elder law attorney Laurie Ohall says many times patients near the end of their lives will consult with doctors and agree to a DNR.
"[Patients' families believe] if they stop breathing, we don't want paddles on them, we don't want their heart pumped, cause you could break ribs," Ohall said. "And if an elderly person especially is very fragile, they don't want any of that."
The procedure in question: CPR. It's a lifesaving method so violent, it can leave you with broken bones which is why some patients opt not to have it done at all.
They do it with a Do Not Resuscitate order or DNR. It has to be signed by a doctor and is only used, "when somebody does not want CPR or to be resuscitated," Ohall said.
The DNR must be honored under Florida law. But when a resident with a DNR here at Jacaranda Manor nursing home in St. Petersburg stopped breathing in the dining hall, the home disregarded his DNR and performed CPR.
"I want to see how well the provider has informed or worked with the team to be able to ensure that this patient's wishes are being followed," said Saint Petersburg College healthcare ethics teacher Eric Carver.
We went to Jacaranda Manor to find out whether there's any system in place to identify patients with a DNR. They threatened to call the police before they would give us any information.
Carver says a DNR doesn't remove the need for all care.
"The DNR doesn't mean that you push someone in the corner and you just watch and wait until they're dead," he said.
Instead, it means a patient's wishes must be honored.
"It's something that you respect and you go through that end of life process," he said.
Jacaranda Manor was fined $16,000 for keeping their resident alive against his wishes.