As many as 40,000 patients a year are having “do not resuscitate orders” secretly imposed on them without their families ever being told, it can be disclosed.
A national audit of dying patients has highlighted a failure by authorities to tell relatives of plans put in place for their loved ones.
It is estimated that every year, more than 200,000 patients are issued with do not resuscitate orders, instructing doctors not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the patient suffers a cardiac arrest or stops breathing.
The procedure – under which food, fluid and medication was routinely withdrawn from patients thought to be close to death – was abolished in 2014 in response to public concern.
Prof Sam Ahmedzai, chairman of the audit and author of recent guidelines on care of the dying, said: “When a decision has been taken [not to resuscitate], it is unforgivable not to have a conversation with the patient – if they are conscious and able – or with the family.
“If a doctor was dying they would expect this. We need to show the same respect to our patients.” he said. Prof Ahmedzai also said doctors also needed to be far more open with patients who were facing death.
Note: Does this active refusal of care NOT go against the stated objective of the NHS? Stories of this nature call into question the motives of health policy in the UK. In this context, is care, health or wellbeing a motive for the refusal to allow mothers an alternative to the MMR vaccine?