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Pandemic care home death: Family to sue over mother's end-of-life consent

A man plans to sue a nursing home because, he says, during the pandemic his mother was put on end-of-life care without her family being told.

Antonia Stowell, 87, did not have the mental capacity to consent because she had dementia, say the family's lawyers. Her son, Tony Stowell, said if end-of-life care had been discussed, he would not have agreed to it.

Rose Villa nursing home in Hull says all proper process in Mrs Stowell's care was followed with precision.

As a prelude to legal action, Mr Stowell's lawyers have obtained his mother's hospital records which, they say, show she was diagnosed with suspected pneumonia while living in the home. End-of-life drugs were then prescribed and ordered by medical professionals.

In a statement, Rose Villa said: "We believe that our dedicated and professional team provided Antonia with the very best care under the direction of her GP and medical team, and all proper process in the delivery of this care was followed with precision."

Mr Stowell's lawyers, Gulbenkian Andonian solicitors, said his mother's hospital records reveal the decision to put her on end-of-life care was made two days before the family was told.

In their letter to the home announcing the planned legal action, they said Mrs Stowell could have had "48 additional hours on a ventilator with treatment… with the necessary implication that Antonia Stowell could still be with us today or at least survived".

The lawyer dealing with the case, Fadi Farhat, told the BBC: "As a matter of law, there is a presumption in favour of treatment which would preserve life and prolong life, irrespective of one's age or condition.

"Therefore to deviate from that presumption means a patient, or family members, should be consulted as soon as that decision is made or contemplated."

He adds: "What is particularly concerning for me is this case occurred at the height of the pandemic. That should worry everybody because it demonstrates that rights can be suspended in times of crisis, when the very purpose of legal rights is to protect us during times of crisis."

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Source: BBC News, 9 January 2023


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