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Family of man with Down’s syndrome takes legal action over “do not resuscitate” order

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6246 (Published 17 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6246
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A man with Down’s syndrome and his family are taking legal action over a hospital’s “do not resuscitate” form that cites his disability as one of the reasons for not trying to resuscitate him in the event of a cardiopulmonary arrest.

The 51 year old man, referred to as AWA, who also has dementia, is suing East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust through a member of his family as litigation friend.

The family was not consulted and was unaware that the decision not to resuscitate him had been taken until one of AWA’s carers found the DNR form among AWA’s belongings when he returned to his care home from a fortnight’s stay at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital at Margate in Kent a year ago.

The reasons listed for the decision, which was said to be “indefinite” in duration, were “Down’s syndrome, unable to swallow (Peg [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy] fed), bed …

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