Norfolk woman’s shock at do not resuscitate recommendation

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A pensioner has described her shock at a recommendation to place her on a do not resuscitate order.

Jean Porcelli was left angered after a consultant gave the recommendation to her after she had visited the James Paget Hospital's day care unit for a blood transfusion.

Mrs Porcelli, who suffered a heart attack in December, is now concerned that nothing will be done to aid her if she has a similar heart problem in the future.

A statement by the hospital says it is good clinical practice to make such decisions in advance and national guidance stresses the importance of involving the patients in these decisions.

Mrs Porcelli said: 'I was in a ward with four other women, all over 70 years old and with different medical problems.


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'In my case I was in for a blood transfusion and it came time for the consultant to come around.

'He told me 'I have looked at your medical record and as your heart is in a poor condition – only working at 30pc – I would not recommend resuscitation.

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'I couldn't believe what I heard, and then the same consultant went straight over to another lady who has been into hospital with lung issues, and said because of those he didn't recommend resuscitation on her.'

Since the 78-year-old in Martham suffered a heart attack, she has been back and forth to the JPH for regular check ups.

This particular occasion on April 6, she was taken to hospital by ambulance and arrived at the hospital's Accident and Emergency Department at 8am ahead of her blood transfusion.

She said: 'I know I have had heart problems in the past but to be told that was quite disconcerting; as now I look at it as if I have one more issue then that is it for me.

'It is confusing since my husband died from a heart attack last year, and at that time paramedics were doing all they could to resuscitate him in our living room.

'As well as that I went to the hospital for a simple blood transfusion so I don't understand why this was suddenly made a big deal and I was told there and then.'

In a statement by the JPH, they confirmed they had received a complaint from Mrs Porcelli and are currently making enquiries before they will respond to her.

Liz Libiszewski, Director of Nursing and Workforce for the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: 'The Trust has a duty to ensure that high quality CPR is available to those patients who would potentially benefit from it but at the same time must ensure that CPR is not forced on those who would not benefit or who would not wish to have it.

'National data shows that only around 20pc of patients undergoing CPR will survive to discharge from hospital. For those patients who are frail, very elderly or have multiple medical problems, the chances of survival are much lower – and this must be considered in any decision-making process.

'In many cases, a patient makes a shared decision with their healthcare professionals. However, where CPR has no realistic chance of success, the healthcare professional may have to inform a patient that CPR will not be attempted and explain the basis for it. Clearly, this can be difficult news to receive and deliver – and we train front-line staff who may be involved in such conversations, so they can handle them with sensitivity and compassion.

'If a patient does not accept the explanation that CPR would be unsuccessful, then a second opinion can, of course, be arranged.'

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