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Are people not allowed to just die anymore?

(62 Posts)
JakeBullet Mon 20-May-13 08:05:46

My gran passed away last night, she was 92, not mobile and had been in a nursing home for the past two years. She has had a urine infection and been confused these past few days and tbh I feel this is a release for her. However, I am less than happy that her final moments were spent being pummelled on the chest by nursing home staff and paramedics.

Please please don't think for one moment I am upset with the people involved, I am not, they do a selfless and wonderful job. However, it seems that protocol now deems you cannot "just die" but efforts must be made to revive you. I am certain that those present were just doing their job but I so wish my Nan had been allowed to slip off without the heroics.

It IS a sudden death because despite the urine infection she had no other issues beyond the normal ones for her since her stroke. The Coroner has had to be informed etc and she had not seen a doctor for some time. I assumed she was on antibiotics but apparently not.

My Nan has wanted to die for a long time, she would not have wanted all the heart pummelling and I am relieved for her that it wasn't successful but so so wish she had just been put back into bed and had her hand held while they contacted the family. As a nurse years ago I don't recall us doing much else (circumstances depending), even for a sudden death when the patient had such underlying health issues as my Nan did. sad

I am probably being unreasonable but just wanted a more peaceful death for her.

pigletmania Mon 20-May-13 08:13:02

Yanbu at all, but I guess staff had to cover teir backs, what if she did want to be revived. Nwadays NHS saff unfrtunately run te risk of being sued if anything goes wrong. If she did not want to be revived than she should have made her wishes known much much earlier whilst cognis mantis.

pigletmania Mon 20-May-13 08:14:21

As family if you knew your Nan did not want to be revived you could have told people involved in her care much earlier instead of on the day

FJL203 Mon 20-May-13 08:14:37

You're not being unreasonable. It's not unusual for people who are alert but suffering terminal illness to give nursing staff the instruction of DNR for this very reason.

I'm very sorry indeed for your loss and wish you peace, strength and the comfort of happier memories.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 08:18:07

I am so sorry for your loss. I have to say that I am surprised that, at her age, they did this. If someone has a terminal illness and they are in a hospice then there is a do not resussitate policy. I suspect if she did not respond to the resuss then she would not have been aware of what was happening to her as she will have already passed.

Flojobunny Mon 20-May-13 08:19:29

Unfortunately if your nan felt that way she should have had a DNR, since she didn't staff have to presume she wanted CPR.
How would I look the other way round "my nan was fit and well except for a uti, staff let her die and did nothing just because she's 92".
So sorry for your loss but it wasn't for you to decide whether she should live or die. If your nan was in a home then there was every chance that a dnr was discussed with her and she chose to be resuscitated.

ssd Mon 20-May-13 08:19:33

totally agree with you Jake

my mum died recently and I can remember her telling me "they keep people alive too long these days"

its not something we want to face, how our loved ones will die. saying to you now you should have thought of that beforehand is rather crass and insensitive to me. I could never broach it with my mum.

I'm sorry for your loss xx

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 08:19:43

piglet, that is a little unsympathetic tbh.

sonu678 Mon 20-May-13 08:19:51

I am sorry for your loss.

You arent being unreasonable. What you say makes eminent sense, and is constantly being debated by health professionals. From what I know, the people doing the 'heroic' saving dont want to be doing it either, but protocol seems to dictate it.
A comment I read stays with me. '90 year olds dont arrest, they die'

read the comments on this guys status from the 29th april. Im sorry I dont know how to link directly to it
med reg

pudcat Mon 20-May-13 08:20:53

There is a form that a residents in care/nursing homes and their next of kin can fill in to say that they do not want to be resuscitated. My mum and I have done so. When we talked about it, I asked Mum if she wanted to be brought back. Her reply was "No I bloody well don't".

Flojobunny Mon 20-May-13 08:22:17

But she wasn't terminally ill, she was just old. She deserved the same rights as anyone else to medical attention.

suchashame Mon 20-May-13 08:22:31

This is the reason many peple do living wills in which they outline the circumstances in which a dnr is in place. If it's not then families and doctors have to agree on it but if it is not and she was on a general ward then often resuscitation is done because sadly some people have complained when " common sense " said a person is just reaching the natural end of life.

These days we do have the means to prolong it so much and each persons choice of when we should stop is different. .. hard for hcp to know what individuals want.

pigletmania Mon 20-May-13 08:28:19

LEM I did not mean to be unsympathetic, op I am very sorry for your loss. My nan passed away from terminal cancer in hospital, but I do not think they tried to revive her. Yes as others ave said, just because she was 92 des not mean she wanted to pass on, she did not appear to have a terminal illness so unless she had said she did not want to be revived to the staff tey have to do this as a matter of protocol. I do wish you all te best, at the moment it is still raw for you, time is a great healer smile

NormanTheForeman Mon 20-May-13 08:29:01

I'm a bit surprised that the care home hadn't previously discussed this with the family. My mum died last December, also at the age of 92, and she was allowed to pass away peacefully, even though she didn't have a terminal illness as such. But the care home had discussed this issue a year or so earler, with my mum and also myself, due to her age, and we had all agreed my mum shouldn't be resuscitated.

It meant that in the event, she was allowed to die without any attempts to resuscitate her.

HerrenaHarridan Mon 20-May-13 08:31:46

I'm sorry for your loss, please take comfort from the fact that she will not have been aware of the resus efforts. Her last conscious moments will have been before she needed resus.

While I totally agree with you I also see the other side, imagine how much angrier you would be it she had wanted to be resuscitated and they didn't bother because she was old.
Unless they have specific instruction otherwise they have to assume that resus is expected.

SDeuchars Mon 20-May-13 08:31:46

But, Flojobunny, live is terminal. Old people die. It is normal and natural (but not a reason to go around killing them). I knew an old person (90+) where a doctor insisted on intervention (despite a DNR in place) and the family only discovered after death that she had had cancer (in addition to the heart and kidney issues that were due to the body wearing out and which she had decided a couple of years previously to leave alone). She could have died much more peacefully and in less pain (although a few weeks earlier) if the doctor had obeyed her wishes.

SDeuchars Mon 20-May-13 08:32:17

Sorry, should have said life is terminal.

TweenageAngst Mon 20-May-13 08:50:56

I am sorry to hear of your loss.
Over the very long time I have spent in nursing I have noticed a trend towards intervention as a default position regardless of co-morbidities. The question that is asked is, is the cause of this decline reversible? And in this case it would seem that the cause was infection which, with treatment is reversible.
That being said I think sensible decisions should be made, for example maintaining nutrition and hydration and treatment with antibiotics, things that are generally considered ordinary means of support however should the infection prove overwhelming then not escalating to extraordinary support such as ventilation and ICU and resus would seem sensible.
I believe that it is really important for people to discuss their wishes for end of life care however here in the UK people really, really don't like talking about it.

AngryGnome Mon 20-May-13 08:57:41

I think one of the problems is that whilst we are living longer, we still aren't culturally prepared to deal with what that can mean in terms if talking about the final stages of life and death. I can't imagine having to have the conversations with my parents about dnr etcetc - I had to do it with my nana and it was awful. But it does have to be done. If it is the case the nhs protocols to preserve life are frequently overriding people's wishes for their end-of-life care then clearly there is a problem which needs to be addressed. My nana was not resuscitated, and I have to say that the doctors were very supportive and sensitive in helping her and us come to this decision.

I am so sorry for your loss. Although it sounds trite, try not to linger in your thoughts on her death but rather remember the richness of her life.

JakeBullet Mon 20-May-13 17:59:19

I would like to thank you all f0r taking the time to share your thoughts on this. I have spoke to family and it seems that while my Nan was very clear that she did not want to be resuscitated, the nurse on duty was new and didn't know her. Therefore when she found my Nan collapsed she went into the default position of dialling 999...and rightly so.

They have discussed this with my Nan several times over the past two years and each time she has said "DNR me. I think the nurse, not knowing my Nan did absolutely the right thing and now I have thought it through I feel better about it all.

Ah well, she has been unwell and this is a release for her, will miss her though.

ChaoticTranquility Mon 20-May-13 18:02:30

OP I'm sorry for your loss flowers

memphis83 Mon 20-May-13 18:10:23

We had a DNR order for my gm, we knew she would die. She had pnumonia after being bedridden and unable to communicate for years due to dementia amongst other things. My gf and her 2 carers called the ambulance to check she was gone on a monitor as previously discussed with her gp and they had to stand between my gm and paramedics as they wanted to do cpr on her.
We were relieved when she went, but my poor mum was begging paramedics not to touch her and to take the blame if tey got into trouble, they had called a second paramedic and then they had to stay with us for 2 hours until the undertaker came. Waste of time and nhs resources, her gp is going through investigations out it now but it was distressing as your situation is.
Sorry for your loss.

VeganCow Mon 20-May-13 18:37:02

In my experience, this is unusual, and people ARE allowed to just pass away in the circumstance you described.

hiddenhome Mon 20-May-13 19:06:48

I work as a nurse in a care home and we are legally obliged to attempt resuscitation if the person has no current DNAR or if the collapse is due to a sudden or new event/illness. It is very distressing having to attempt to resus somebody who is very sick and elderly and the paramedics are never very sympathetic to the situation which just makes things worse for the staff.

Sorry for your loss.

hiddenhome Mon 20-May-13 19:09:19

Oh, and we also have to call the police out if we have a sudden death even if the person was suffering from a serious condition sad

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