ATLANTA (AP) — Two nurses lost their licenses after a television station persuaded courts to unseal a video secretly recorded by the family of a man who died in their care.
The video shows the World War II veteran repeatedly calling for help, saying he can’t breathe. It also shows the nurses failing to take life-saving measures and laughing as they try to start an oxygen machine.
The family of 89-year-old James Dempsey of Woodstock, Georgia, sued the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center in 2014.
Dempsey’s family declined to comment, citing a settlement with the nursing home, the station said.
A statement from the center says care has improved since then, under different leadership.
But WXIA-TV said the nurses didn’t surrender their licenses until this September, after it sent The Georgia Board of Nursing a link to the video the nursing home fought three years to keep secret.
The nurses included a nursing supervisor who told attorneys that, when she learned Dempsey had stopped breathing, she rushed to his room and took over CPR, keeping it up until paramedics arrived. The video shows that nobody was doing CPR when she arrived, and she did not start immediately.
After being shown the video, she told the attorneys it was an honest mistake, based on her normal actions, the station reported.
WXIA said records showed continued problems, including $813,000 in Medicare fines since 2015. It said the nursing home got a good inspection report in May, but still has Medicare’s lowest score, a one-star rating.
Prieto asks Nuckles if that is an acceptable period of time, to which she responds ‘nope’. He asks if Dempsey appears to be gasping for air, to which she responds, ‘yep’.
‘How does it make you feel watching this video?’ the lawyer asks. ‘Sick,’ Nuckles replies.
The video then cuts to 6.23pm, when Nuckles and another nurse enter the room. They fix his blanket and adjust his bed as Dempsey lies motionless.
Prieto says to Nuckles: ‘Contrary to the way you testified previously, there’s no one doing CPR, is there?’ Nuckles replies: ‘No.’
They watch on. Another nurse enters, and all three stand around the bed talking.
At 6.30pm, as they try unsuccessfully to restart the oxygen machine and Dempsey takes his final breaths, the three appear to be laughing – with one of the nurses doubled over laughing.
In the courtroom, Prieto stops the tape and asks Nuckles: ‘Ma’am was there something funny happening at 6.30am on February 27, 2014 in the middle of this attempt to resuscitate Mr Dempsey?’