October 16, 2011

UK: Euthanesia by the backdoor, Hospitals condemn elderly to death

LONDON, England / The Telegraph / Elder Health / October 16, 2011

Elderly patients are being condemned to an early death by hospitals making secret use of "do not resuscitate" orders, an investigation has found.

By Laura Donnelly, and Alastair Jamieson

A charity for the elderly said the disclosures were evidence of 'euthanasia by the backdoor,' with potentially-lethal notices being placed on the files of patients simply because they were old and frail. Photo: Alamy

The orders – which record an advance decision that a patient's life should not be saved if their heart stops – are routinely being applied without the knowledge of the patient or their relatives.

On one ward, one-third of DNR orders were issued without consultation with the patient or their family, according to the NHS's own records. At another hospital, junior doctors freely admitted that the forms were filled out by medical teams without the involvement of patients or relatives.

Under medical guidelines, the orders should only be issued after senior staff have discussed the matter with the patient's family. A form, signed by two doctors, is then placed in the patient's notes to record what decision was taken.

The findings emerged in spot checks of 100 hospitals undertaken by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), an official watchdog, earlier this year.

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