Across the country there have been reports of “do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders being imposed on patients with no consultation, as is their legal right, or after a few minutes on the phone as part of a blanket process.
Laurence Carr, a former detective chief superintendent for Merseyside Police, is still angry over the actions of doctors at Warrington Hospital who imposed an unlawful “do not resuscitate” order on his sister, Maria, aged 64.
She has mental health problems and lacks the capacity to be consulted or make decisions and has been living in a care home for 20 years. As her main relative, Mr Carr found out about the notice on her records only when she was discharged to a different hospital a week later.
Maria had been admitted for a urinary tract infection at the end of March. Although she has diabetes and an infection on her leg her condition was not life threatening.
Mr Carr said: “My sister has no capacity to effectively be consulted due to her mental illness and would not understand if they did try to explain, so I was furious that I had not been consulted."
He later learnt that the reason given by the hospital for imposing the DNR was "multiple comorbitidies".
In a statement, Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust said it was fully aware of the law, which was reflected in its policies and regular training.
It said: “We did not follow our own policy in this case and have the requisite discussions with the family. The template form which was completed in this case indicates that discussion with the family was ‘awaiting’. Regretfully due to human error this did not occur."
Mr Carr and his sister are not alone. National charity Turning Point said it had learnt of 19 inappropriate DNARs from families, while Learning Disability England said almost one-fifth of its members had reported DNARs placed in people’s medical records without consultation during March and April.
Source: The Independent, 14 July 2020