A man with Down's syndrome is taking legal action against a hospital after a "do not resuscitate" order was put on his file due to his disability and without consent or consultation.
Law firm Leigh Day & Co issued legal proceedings yesterday against East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
The 51-year-old man, referred to as AWA for legal reasons, has dementia and is fed by a tube through his stomach.
He was admitted to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, on September 7 last year where he stayed until September 26.
During his stay, hospital staff were instructed not to perform resuscitation in the event of a cardio or respiratory arrest with no provision for review and giving his disability as the sole reason for the order's imposition, said Leigh Day.
Solicitors said that the do not resuscitate order was found in AWA's possession after he had been discharged and sent back home.
It stated that the DNR would be in place for an "indefinite" period and the rationale for not resuscitating was that AWA had Down's syndrome, was unable to swallow, was bedbound and had learning difficulties, they said.
The order said that next of kin were not informed because they were "unavailable" despite the fact that AWA's family visited virtually every day and even attended a meeting organised by the clinicians caring for him to discuss his feeding tube.
Leigh Day & Co's Merry Varney said: "This is definitely one of the most extreme cases we have seen of a DNR order being not only imposed on a patient without consent or consultation, but to use Down's syndrome and learning difficulties as a reason to withhold life-saving treatment is nothing short of blatant prejudice.??
"If an individual was physically preventing a doctor from administering life-saving treatment to a disabled relative, it would undoubtedly be a matter for the police, yet we see doctors taking this decision without consent or consultation regularly."
East Kent Hospitals medical director Dr Neil Martin said the trust could not comment on the individual case because it subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
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