Times have changed enough that whatever we used to trust doctors, nurses and health care workers to do in the past……we’d better re-think.

Patients and their families have to be their own best advocates to guard against things like this.

A patient who suffered a heart attack on a hospital ward died because clerical staff had mistakenly inserted a ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ form into his medical notes.

Peter Clarke was not treated by doctors after going into cardiac arrest as a nurse had spotted the form in his files and, even though it was blank and had not been filled in, told other ward staff he should not be revived.

The blunder emerged at an inquest into the incident at Derby Hospitals NHS Trust, where bosses revealed staff had been ‘routinely’ placing the forms alongside medical records before they had been correctly signed and witnessed by senior doctors.

Sounds like an anomaly, right? And it’s bad enough if even one person slips through the cracks and dies because of hospital negligence.

But an investigation showed the blank DNAR forms were being routinely filed into patients’ records.

This “tragic hospital visit” should have been more routine. The tragedy was totally avoidable.

His daughter Lynda Woodiwiss, 61, said: ‘He was visited by family every day and there was no discussion between the hospital and us about whether or not to revive him. ‘Had we been asked then we would definitely have told them to revive him and do whatever they could. That is what you expect of a hospital.’”

Don’t wait for doctors or hospitals to ask. Be pro-active and armed with completed documents specifying what each member of your family expects from medical care if incapacitated. Get informed with resources like what they offer at the International Task Force, before it’s too late. No exaggeration.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....