A video has been circulating the internet showing an elderly man during the last moments of his life in a nursing home (Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation) near Atlanta. The incident happened in 2014, but the video has been released and since gained a certain notoriety. The nurses, on top of their casual disregard for the man’s labored gasps for air and desperate reaches with his hands, laughed among themselves as he died.
The disturbing video begins with WWII veteran James Dempsey crying out for help, and as the deposition points out: there is no sense of urgency to come to the man’s aid. Gross negligence is obvious throughout, starting with unanswered cries for help. Then comes the laughing.
As much of our user-base consists of veterans, many of us know that difficult jobs can often bring up a dark sense of humor. However, there is a time and place for everything, and laughing as a man struggles to breathe and fights for his life is not the time, nor is it the place. Attempting to save his life would have been a more traditional and effective method of healthcare.
In the deposition, former nurse Wanda Nuckles is asked what is so funny. “I have no clue,” she said, “I can’t even remember all that–as you can see.” She is one of the nurses in the video.
At the end, she gives him a half-hearted six compressions, to which she is asked, “Any reason to stop after six compressions there ma’am?” She replies: “Not that I know of.” It seems that they had written Mr. Dempsey off from the moment he struggled for air, perhaps even before then.
It would be almost an hour before they called 911.
Though James M Dempsey’s life ended in this disturbing way, he lived a long and interesting 89 years. According to his obituary, he was “a veteran of the US Navy serving in WWII, and he retired from the Georgia Army National Guard.” His wife had passed before him, and he is survived by his two sons and two grandchildren.
The family members installed the camera, and had they not done so they wouldn’t have discovered the negligence and lack of urgency on the part of the nursing home staff. Most families put their loved ones in the care of healthcare professionals because they trust that they will be treated to the best of their abilities. The family would later sue the nursing home and land a settlement.
Check out the video here. It’s set to start at the moment when she begins to laugh, but you can skip back to the beginning and see the whole thing. Watch as she changes her story during the progression of the deposition–particularly in regards to how she gave CPR.
Image and video courtesy of YouTube. Image of Mr. Dempsey courtesy of Northside Chapel Obituary.