Coronavirus: Concerns over quick Do Not Resuscitate decisions at BHRUT as patients’ family speak out

King George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken Mears

King George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

The family of a man with suspected Covid-19 thinks DNR decisions at BHRUT are made too early into admissions and non-English speaking patients may suffer.

Amir Zaman, 87, of Cranbrook Road, was admitted into King George on the morning of Saturday, April 4 after paramedics treated him at his home with breathing problems.

He was suspected to have Covid-19 symptoms.

Within hours a doctor at King George put in a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order for Mr Zaman and the hospital said this was communicated with him but his family said he wasn’t aware of it.

His son Zafar Hussain, of Gants Hill, said: “This is unethical and completely unacceptable as the doctor did not even discuss this with us.

“We were subsequently told he agreed to the DNR, however when we spoke to him he confirmed he had not agreed to it.

“This must be happening to other people also.

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“DNR decisions are being made far too early after admissions.”

A DNR order is a medical decision that does not legally require consent but doctors will try to understand a patient’s wishes when making their decision.

Mr Zaman, who speaks Punjabi and Pothwari, self discharged from the hospital on Monday and his family said in the three days he was admitted the hospital did not arrange for an interpreter until Monday, just before he went home.

Zafar said: “This is London 2020 you can get interpreters on the phone easily.

“In medical settings, having proper communication and keeping in touch with families is critical.”

Since visitors aren’t allowed in hospitals for the time being, Zafar said his father was in pain but wasn’t able to communicate that to his nurses and had to call his family, who then had to call the hospital to get them to help him.

Dr Magda Smith, Chief Medical Officer for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are very conscious of the fact that families aren’t able to visit the hospital at this time due to our temporary visitor restrictions which are in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

“As a result we are having some difficult conversations over the phone that we would rather conduct face-to-face.

“Every effort is made to ensure we communicate to patients in a language they can understand.

“In this case doctors did speak to Mr Zaman to ensure he was fully aware of the information being given to him.”

Zafar said this was not the case and it was only on Monday when his family was arranging to discharge Mr Zaman that a doctor was able to talk to him in Punjabi.

He said: “If there are no visitors allowed in the hospital then it’s crucial that there are interpreters.

“If patients are not able to express their needs when they’re in pain that’s a real problem.

“Having proper interpreters is crucial for patient safety.”

Zafar said that since the hospital staff is so busy, not only could they not visit his father, but he struggled to raise complaints or get any clear answers about his father’s care.

He added: “I know the staff are very busy now but they have to understand that people are feeling vulnerable right now.

“People are anxious and very distraught and they have to make that process as easy as possible for everyone.”

Dr Smith said: “We apologise to Mr Zaman’s family for any misunderstanding caused.

“We are constantly striving to ensure our processes meet all of our patients’ needs at this critical time.”

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