Hospital Apologizes for Putting DNR Order on Patient Just Because He Had Down Syndrome

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 10, 2015   |   5:55PM   |   London, England

A British hospital is apologizing after the family of a man with Down syndrome found that a “do not resuscitate” order had been placed on his medical records without their consent.

The incident began in 2011 when 51-year-old Andrew Waters, who has Down syndrome, spent some time at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Kent, Yahoo News reports.

After Waters was discharged, his family discovered the DNR order on his medical records; the reason given was “Down’s Syndrome, unable to swallow (PEG fed), bed bound, learning difficulties,” according to the report. The family, who often visited Waters, was listed as “unavailable” on the report.

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust apologized for the incident Tuesday and promised that the group has taken action to make sure it will not happen again.


“The Trust accepts that it breached its duty owed to the patient,” said a spokeswoman for the hospitals group. “We apologize unreservedly for this and the distress it caused.”

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The British group SPUC Pro-Life, a leading anti-euthanasia group, said Thursday that the apology was good news.

Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life’s general secretary, told LifeNews: “We welcome the hospital’s apology and its undertaking to prevent such wrongs happening again. It is disturbing that disabled people continue to be threatened with lethal discrimination. We agree with Michael Waters, Andrew’s brother, that ‘people with Down’s Syndrome deserve the right to live like you and me.’ It should be emphasized that the welfare and the right to life of patients should come first regardless of whether or not the patient’s family or carers are consulted.”

Waters’ brother Michael Waters filed a lawsuit against the hospital after discovering the DNR order had been placed on his brother’s medical file without their knowledge or consent, according to news reports.

“I still feel very angry about this, especially the fact that my brother’s Down’s syndrome was put as the reason for the [DNR],” Michael Waters said.

The brother told BBC News that the family was at the hospital often and involved in Andrew’s care at every point. He said they found the DNR order on a folded-up piece of paper in Andrew’s bag after he was discharged. He said he was thankful for the hospital group’s apology.

“It’s taken a long time for the hospital to admit this, which we’ve found hard,” Waters said. “All we ever wanted from this case was a simple apology. People with Down’s Syndrome deserve the right to life like you and me.”

The family did not seek compensation for his death, the BBC reports.

Though the hospitals group apologized, the doctor involved has not, Michael Waters said.

“No one has the right to make such a decision in such a disgraceful way … to put those reasons down,” Michael Waters said. “There was nothing wrong with Andrew’s health at the time which would have had an effect on resuscitation.”

Andrew Waters, who also suffered from dementia, died earlier this year from an unrelated cause, according to reports. He loved dancing, swimming and drama, according to the news report.