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Must share our experience in case it happens to you - sorry long!

43 replies

dottee · 13/05/2005 12:22

In March, my mum (aged 78) got severe chest pains and phoned 999.

She was admitted via ambulance onto A & E where it was found, through various tests including an 'echo', she had fluid around her heart.

I live just over 40 miles away and by the time I got to the hospital, she was in 'resuc' with lots of wires attached to her and a ventilator in her mouth. She'd been admitted at around 6.30pm and it was around 9.30pm when I got there.

On arrival, I saw my dd's Godmother who is now a nurse on the unit and had been looking after mum. My friend was able to tell me more - she said my mum had arrested shortly after arrival and it had taken 10 minutes to bring her back. But she was stable when arrived although still quite poorly. The A & E team tried to access the CT Scan but the powers that be wouldn't not authorise the facility to be opened that night. My friend said the team had argued for an hour and half to use it but to no avail. My friend said the team were at their wits end but couldn't do anything more because facilities were not available. It was then decided that mum should be transferred to the Emergency Assessment Unit overnight.

When I arrived with mum, the nurse allocated to her told me a 'DNR form (do not resuscitate)' had been placed on mum's notes, meaning, if she arrested again, nothing would be done. It was another decision by the powers that be and I hadn't been consulted.

Mum improved. She was diagnosed as having a split aorta. After five weeks of hospital and rehabiliation, she is now living independantly again in her own home. She is driving (with her GP's blessing) and going about her everyday business. When she was well enough, I told her about the DNR form and she has queried this via PALs. The PALs lady queried on mum's behalf with the A & E people and it is standard procedure for the consultant on call to have the say whether a DNR form is to be in place, even without seeing the patient in person. Mum told her own GP about this yesterday and even he was taken aback.

This has been bothering me ever since the night mum was taken in and the more we go into it, the more it concerns us. Mum has been assured now (by PALs) that the form has now been taken off her notes. Dd's Godmum didn't tell me about it, but when I asked her specifically whilst chatting a few days later, she confirmed what had happened. She must have been in a very awkward position that night. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

OP posts:
Mothernature · 13/05/2005 12:26
hunkermunker · 13/05/2005 12:27
Gobbledigook · 13/05/2005 12:31

OMG, sorry I just can't get my head round that. It's very, very frightening.

So glad your Mum is up and well again though.

Rhubarb · 13/05/2005 12:39

I've heard about this and unfortunately, in the absence of a family member, the consultant has to decide there and then if the patient is to be resusitated or not. It is very unfair, but it seems that your mums age was taken into consideration that night.

It must have been horrible for her to hear about this. It needs to be changed, but at the moment they are within their rights to do this.

charleypops · 13/05/2005 12:47

That's disgusting. How on earth can a consultant be given that power without knowing anything about his patient - her lifestlye, independence, the fact she still drives etc. It's not like she'd been in terrible pain and fear and fighting for life for weeks on end is it? The fact is she's as valid a human being as he is! This post has sickened me. That consultant needs a big slap.

So sorry Dottee. I hope she has made a full recovery. I hope you and your mum have the energy to do what it takes to find some proper resolution so you don't have to live with feeling bitter about it.

Windermere · 13/05/2005 13:02

Dottee. That is awful, I would write to your MP. Just a suggestion, you may not want to but how about writing to a newspaper sometimes it seems that issues are only addressed if they hit the newspapers.

dottee · 13/05/2005 13:14

I am going to suggest to mum that we contact Age Concern. She'd already been in contact with the local rep. about gardening services.

Another annoying thing is that the week before her admission, she'd paid over a £1,000 to have a carple tunnel (sp?) op. on her finger through being a private patient (because otherwise she would have had to wait over a year) and another consultant deemed her fit for surgery then!!!

I did complain officially on the night (before finding out about the DNR form) quoting mum's fitness for surgery the week before. I found out about the form at 2am and was too tired physically and emotionally to kick off again on the night.

It's still praying on my mind though - as you can tell.

OP posts:
flum · 13/05/2005 13:17

mmmmmm having looked after someone who was rescucitated from a heart attack for two years. I have to say I am very pro- DNRs especially in elderly people.

LGJ · 13/05/2005 13:19

Euthanasia by another name.

There are a couple or wrists bands around at the moment with a religous angle.

One which I think is great is P.U.S.H.....Pray until something happens.

But the one I really like is W.W.G.D.....What would God do ??

I bet if the consultant took the time out to ask himself W.W.G.D he would not have put DNR on your mothers notes.

I am so angry

LGJ · 13/05/2005 13:20


Surely following consultation ???

Not in a high handed manner like that

charleypops · 13/05/2005 13:30

NO ONE should have the right to write anyone off just because of their age. A lot of people are perfectly fit and healthy at that age. Everybody's different. These elderly people have paid a fortune in their lifetime into the health service and fought and made sacrifices for our country etc. They deserve a chance. They get little enough respect as it is in this country. Loads of people have a fulfilling life after having a heart attack. Every case should be looked at on it's individual merits. Not age.

dottee · 13/05/2005 13:30

LGJ - did as my friend on the night whether age was coming into it and I understood when she said she 'couldn't really say'.

Flum - know where you're coming from as mum's sister is totally dependant now after a stroke and often wishes 'the Lord should have took her'.

We realise how fortunate we are with mum's fantastic recovery but I got inside information and I wonder how many 'slip away' without anyone querying notes.

OP posts:
dottee · 13/05/2005 13:31

sorry 'ask' not 'as'.

OP posts:
flum · 13/05/2005 13:39

To be honest from a totally objective point of view. And I know it is totally different when it is your own mum/dad being discussed. I wish that they would just leave people be to die when they are elderly. A lot of elderly people are so bored and lonely and it really is a drain on the NHS service. There are infinate demands on the NHS service but I don't think keeping elderly people alive should be a priority.

I know it sounds harsh but we are an ageing population and saving someone from one illness just to wait until they have another illness is a tragedy for the NHS and th e family.

My grandmother had between the ages of 78 to 86.

3 heartattacks
a stroke
2 broken arms
and then finally bowel cancer
then she eventually died in her sleep.

The drugs that were in her house when she died were unbelievable.

I would estimate she cost the NHS over £100k and she said if she'd known what it was going to be like she wished she'd been allowed to go the first time she was called.

It was a very stressful time for all the family. We all took turns to care for her but not all families are able to do that.

I think Doctors should be allowed to make the decisions they trained to make.

hatsoff · 13/05/2005 13:48

tell you what flum, why not cut their pensions as well, that'll speed up the process, I mean if there's no point in funding health care for the elderly not much point in making sure they have food and a warm house is there? . No-one need be treated against their will, if THEY feel they want to be left alone and in peace but it's not for other people to decide if another life is valid.

saadia · 13/05/2005 13:50

dottee, I am also horrified by your experience and I just cannot agree with the argument that elderly people should be "left to die". I know NHS resources are scarce but we live in one of the richest countries in the world and EVERYONE should have access to the best healthcare available. Straying from this belief will, I think, lead us into very murky waters.

Added to that, elderly people who have worked all their lives and paid taxes all their lives are the ones who have probably contributed the most to the NHS anyway.

hatsoff · 13/05/2005 13:50

sorry dottee - I realise I have responded to flum without responding to you. just got a bit cross! I'm glad your mum is ok and thank you for sharing the experience. I am shocked. and now forewarned.

WideWebWitch · 13/05/2005 13:52

Hmm, that's a pretty offensive (to me) pov flum. Dotee, so sorry, this is terrible. 78 isn't that old these days and thanks for telling us. I'm glad your mum is ok.

noddyholder · 13/05/2005 13:55

shocking to think they have that power to decide without even having seen the patient and a split aorta isn't incurable there is surgery Also shocked that there is no access to vital equipment at night

Potty1 · 13/05/2005 13:56

Gosh Flum that's a bit harsh - not all elderly people are bored and lonely and why shouldn't they cost the NHS money - they've paid enough towards it.

Dottee - I'm shocked and appalled. I understand there are tough decisions to make but surely the family deserve some input. I'm not surprised its on your mind.

whymummy · 13/05/2005 13:57

that is shocking and so upsetting dottee
so glad your mum made a full recovery

piffle · 13/05/2005 13:58

What a desperate thing to have learned Dottee, thank God your mum made it through to be able to argue it out now.
IMHO a DNR should be self requested only. A doctor else cannot appoint themselves on the basis of a quality of life afterwards, only the patient concerned can.
And I'm liberal about euthanasia for those who really want it, but not executed in this offhand way.
I'm not religious but who makes doctors God?

flum · 13/05/2005 14:01

I know it is harsh

JoolsToo · 13/05/2005 14:11

Harsh? its downright shocking!

those elderly people have fought to keep this country free and made their contributions to the NHS - and their reward now they're bored and lonely? slap em with a DNR - how generous!

flum · 13/05/2005 14:16

I know its shocking but when I worked in an old people home most of them were just miserable and said they wish God would take them, and the pains and the waiting was awful.

I'm not advocating murder, just not rescucitating

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