Posts Tagged ‘Do not resuscitate’

Do not resuscitate! A case of an “institutionally mandated execution”?

November 6, 2012

In the light of the recent criticisms of the Care Pathways in the UK, this case of the “Do Not Resuscitate” orders by doctors – against the patient’s wishes –  and Janet Tracy’s subsequent death  is more than a little disturbing. She was suffering from terminal cancer but her death was surely accelerated by the DNR.

When a patient’s death is apparently deliberately caused – by inaction and prematurely – by the “policies” of a hospital (and its doctors), we are entering into the murky realm of institutionally mandated executions.

I don’t live in the UK but the National Health Service is held up as a model in so many other countries that what is practised at hospitals in the UK today will be quickly justified and adopted in many other places.

The Independent:

Doctors twice placed ‘do not resuscitate’ orders on medical notes of Janet Tracey, against her and her family’s wishes

A dying woman was “badgered” by doctors so much about agreeing to a do not resuscitate order that she was reduced to terrified tears, her husband said today.

Janet Tracey, 63, had been determined to fight cancer but within days of being admitted to hospital after a car crash, she became “anxious and distressed”.

“At one point she told me they were trying to get rid of her and I told her not to be silly, which proved to be a mistake. She was panicked. They were questioning her all the time about a DNACPR (do not attempt cardio-pulmonary resuscitation order),” her widower David Tracey told the High Court today as he explained that he and his daughters asked for the order to be removed.

Days later, on 7 March last year, Mrs Tracey died after second DNR was placed on her files, explicitly against her family’s wishes. ….. 

Something is not quite right if the death of a patient – even a terminally ill patient – is caused deliberately and prematurely – whether by action or by inaction – against the patient’s wishes. This comes perilously close to  an execution being mandated by an institution’s “policies”.

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