East Kent NHS Hospitals Trust has issued an apology after placing a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on a patient with Down’s syndrome. The family of Andrew Waters found out about the DNR order when he was discharged from hospital in Margate in 2011 and has been campaigning for an apology ever since.
Mr Waters died in May at the age of 53 year old. Although the DNR order did not have any influence on his death and the family has never sought compensation, Andrew’s relatives were extremely hurt and angry when they found out about the order. Mr Waters’ Down’s syndrome and associated learning difficulties were noted as reasons for non-resuscitation on a crumpled piece of paper found in his hospital bags by his carer.
Michael Waters, Andrew’s brother, said that at the time there was “nothing wrong with Andrew’s health” that could have necessitated a DNR order and the family should have been actively involved in any decision-making, especially of that gravity. The reason for the hospital stay was problems linked to dementia and nothing to do with any serious breathing or cardiac issues. Nobody was aware of the order until he was discharged and no family members or carers were consulted about the order.
Michael said it has taken a long time to get an apology from the trust, which has now admitted to breaching Mr Waters’ human rights.
In a statement, East Kent NHS Hospitals Trust admitted failing to fulfil its duty of care to Mr Waters and offered unreserved apologies to his family. The statement also confirmed that action has been taken to prevent similar situations from arising in the future.