A grandmother has said she is “panicking” and “not sleeping at night”, after being informed that she was assigned a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) order during her stay in hospital.
Marie McLean, a 63-year-old from Lanarkshire, was hospitalised when she was found unresponsive, and her daughter Louise Gallacher was told that if the ventilator failed she would not be resuscitated as a DNR had been put in place.
But Louise said there were “no discussions with anybody regarding the DNR”, and if she had been asked, “I would have said no, absolutely resuscitate her – bring her back”.
She explained: “On her medical records, it’s just asthma. They said she had a chest infection or pneumonia and I wouldn’t think it would warrant a DNR being put on her.
“We asked for a second opinion and did not get it. We asked to speak to the consultant when we were up in the critical care ward and we did say that we did not agree with it.”
Marie has been discharged, but she said that she is worried that if she is readmitted into hospital “they’ll maybe say ‘Oh well, she’s got a DNR, just let her go’. That’s what’s going through my head.”
She added: “Give me a chance. I don’t want to die, I’ve got grandweans. I want to still live.”
NHS Lanarkshire responded that all its hospitals follow NHS Scotland guidance: “In terms of good practice, any decisions regarding the application of the policy should be discussed with the patient and/or carer by medical staff and this is documented in the patient record.”
But Adam Stachura, Head of Policy and Communications at Age Scotland, said the charity has heard from people who have discovered “almost by accident” they have DNRs and it was creating “shock, anxiety and fear”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson stated: “It is essential that the information that CPR cannot be offered is clearly and sensitively shared with patients”, and where “a patient lacks capacity to engage with this conversation, relatives or others close to the patient must be informed without delay”.
In December, a pensioner claimed he was recorded as having a DNR in place without his knowledge after he suffered a seizure in hospital.
Pat Burke was visiting the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, for a routine check-up when he had a seizure in the waiting room. When his wife Betty visited him the following day, she discovered that doctors had signed a DNR order.
The form states that the issue was discussed with the couple, but they dispute this.
Mr Burke said: “I might not be well, I can’t run any more, I can’t box any more, but I want to be here. I’ve still got a life, I can still have a laugh, there is no reason why I should be dead. But I didn’t have a choice.”