An investigation by 11Alive revealed disturbing hidden camera footage of the last moments in the life of 89-year-old James Dempsey, a decorated World War II veteran from Woodstock, Georgia who died in an Atlanta nursing home in 2014.
The footage shows the nurses ignoring Dempsey’s pleas for help as he shouted that he could not breathe. The nurses delayed providing medical attention, failed to call 911 for an hour, started and stopped performing CPR, and even laughed as the elderly vet slipped into lifelessness.
The video released to the public contrasts the hidden camera footage with a recording of former nursing supervisor Wanda Nuckles’ conversation with the Dempsey family attorney.
The video, which dates back to 2014, was sealed. Dempsey’s family sued to be able to hand the footage over to 11Alive, and a judge ultimately ruled in favor of the victim’s family.
The conversation between Nuckles and the Dempsey family attorney shows that the nursing supervisor made a number of false statements regarding her team’s response to the ailing veteran.
Dempsey later acknowledged the discrepancy when confronted with the footage, but attributed it to “an honest mistake. I was just basing everything on what I normally do.”
As seen in the footage, Dempsey called for help six times before falling unconscious. The nursing staff under Nuckles found the man unresponsive at 5:28am, but did not call 911 until 6:25am.
Nuckles also lied by initially claiming the nurses immediately began performing CPR, and that she took over the chest compressions when she arrived on the scene. The nurse said she continued doing CPR until paramedics arrived.
The footage contradicts her statements. Dempsey only briefly received CPR in his final moments. Nuckles herself admitted their response ran counter to medical standards, which say that, once started, CPR should not be stopped until the arrival of paramedics.
The nurses also neglected to check the patient’s vital signs. But what is most disturbing: the group of women broke into laughter when they had difficulty getting Dempsey’s oxygen machine working. Nuckles called the video of her own emergency response “sick.”
Unsurprisingly, she no longer works at the Sava Senior Care-owned facility. The nursing home has a one-star rating from Medicare. It remains open.
James Dempsey was deeply mourned by his family and friends, who thought he had died of natural causes. The revealing footage has rocked the community.