I can't do chest compressions (CPR) will I be terminated?

  1. I'm 66 and on Occupational Health Nurse Manager at a Fortune 500 company. In November one morning I woke up unable to stand on my right leg. Subsequently I was hospitalized, had a MRI then a CAT and given an spinal epidural of steroids whereupon I recovered over the next two months. I have severe bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis. This was quite to my surprise as I work out regularly in the gym (aggressively which may have caused the issue) and my lumbar radiograph is none to pretty.

    I returned to work half days and my doc said: "What do you want for restrictions?" I answered: "Stand no more than one minute; Walk no more than 5 minutes and No lift/push/pull greater then 7 lbs. Well, I was at work for about two hours and someone came running into my clinic: "Come quick, someone is having a heart attack."

    Indeed, that appeared to be the case. I said to one of our first responder team: "I can't do compressions, you do compressions, I'll bag." We did exactly that. The person giving compressions did an excellent job, we ventilated him, I shaved, slapped on the pads, analyzed and shocked. I thought we might save the fellow because of "shock advised," but it wasn't to be. It was great teamwork and I'm proud.

    However, my CPR card just expired and now I must get a AH CPR card but I should not do compressions. Since CPR is an essential function of the job, I could be terminated because of this. So I wonder, am I covered under ADA?

    I'd argue yes, as I would never be doing CPR one on one and there would always be another first responder to do compressions.

    Any thoughts? Anyone face this sort of issue before?
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  2. Poll: To terminate or not terminate?

    • Put that nurse out to pasture, terminate.

      31.43% 11
    • Protected under ADA, keep that job.

      68.57% 24
    35 Votes
  3. 57 Comments

  4. by   Flatline
    I take it you have not officially notified your employer? It is not only a professional requirement that you immediately notify your employer but it is the ethical thing to do. Lives literally are dependent upon it, you cannot depend on there always being another person there and this facility is looking to you.

    I would consider failure to immediately report the inability to perform an essential and lifesaving intervention to be gross indifference to life and medical negligence.

    I would personally not consider the inability to perform chest compressions to be a deal breaker however, I would think reasonable accommodations such as getting others a CPR card or a LUCAS could be figured out but they need to know...now.

    "Essential job functions are the fundamental duties of a position: the things a person holding the job absolutely must be able to do. Essential job functions are used to determine the rights of an employee with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employee who can’t perform the essential job functions, even with a reasonable accommodation, isn’t considered qualified for the job and isn’t protected from discrimination."

    Essential Job Functions Under the ADA - Disability Discrimination | Nolo.com
  5. by   Sour Lemon
    I can't imagine that a nursing employer would be required to accommodate a nurse who is unable to do CPR.
  6. by   Rose_Queen
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I can't imagine that a nursing employer would be required to accommodate a nurse who is unable to do CPR.
    That is my thought as well. If the job requires CPR certification with the expectation of performing CPR if needed, then this would not be a reasonable accommodation.
  7. by   martymoose
    Dumb question- can you retire and then find a per diem job thats more bookwork?

    Sorry this is happening to you.

    I know a friend of mine who qualified for SS, but she was still allowed to work in a different capacity. Takes a while to find out if you qualify for that.

    Gal I work with , same age as you, took retirement, but came back at very reduced hours.

    Good luck. You probably wouldn't want to be in the situation that you were the only one there who knew how to do compressions, and couldn't, and the person passed.
  8. by   MunoRN
    Unfortunately if the job requires that you be able to do CPR then you can't get out of that with ADA accommodations, accommodations are only available for things that don't really affect your ability to do your job. And while it helps that there is usually someone else available to do compressions, single person compressions are not nearly as effective as when two responders are able to rotate compressions.
  9. by   Been there,done that
    The fact is.. YOU asked for the the restriction.YOU can get it removed.
    You are able to perform compressions. It could just possibly exacerbate your condition.

    Go through the motions during recertification. Handle the real life scenario as needed.
  10. by   Wolf at the Door
    I did not like your poll options. So either you employer knows or does not know about your restrictions. If they do that is reckless to have you in a clinical role. If they don't know what are you waiting for. You are of retirement age maybe its time to do something else. I don't want you to do compressions because of your condition if it will flare up things. If you are employed by a hospital anytime you walk through the hospital someone could need compression and as first responder that is your job.
  11. by   roser13
    OP, I work in a similar situation in that I would never be in the position of administering one-person CPR at work. There will always be someone else. My employer would likely overlook my inability to perform compressions for that reason. However, PP are correct: you must disclose to your employer that you are unable to maintain the CPR certification and put yourself at their mercy.
  12. by   MunoRN
    I wouldn't necessarily assume you can't do CPR. I have the same condition you referenced, among others, which are more commonly known as just a "bad back". I see a physical therapist regularly and one of the first things we worked on was common movements at work including CPR. With the right technique, it's possible to produce high quality CPR even with a delicate bad back.
  13. by   Flo.
    I'm sorry, but CPR is an essential function of an RN. The ADA can't help that. If you can't do it, then you need to retire or get a different job. It is horrible to have physical limitations but it is for the safety of our patients. What would happen if you are a single responder? You have to be able to do CPR until EMS arrives.
  14. by   Horseshoe
    Just curious, are you able to exercise any more? Swimming, water aerobics, etc.?
  15. by   blondy2061h
    I broke my wrist several years ago. I was not able to return to work until they cleared me to return without restrictions, partially because of CPR, and all nurses being required to be able to perform CPR. As I result, I was out of work over 4 months.

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