Kent: Pensioner says doctors signed DNR order ‘without his permission’

Pat Burke, 82, says the decision goes against his religious beliefs and is a form of suicide (Picture: KMG/SWNS)

A pensioner claims a ‘do not resuscitate’ order was signed without his informed permission in hospital.

Pat Burke, 82, who was left fearing he would die alone, slammed the decision as against his religious beliefs and a ‘form of suicide’.

Mr Burke had been visiting the QEQM hospital in Margate, Kent, for a routine check-up on his pacemaker when he had a seizure in the waiting room.

Doctors and nurses rushed to his aid and he was taken to the ward to be monitored.

But when his wife Betty Burke, 81, visited the next day, she claims she saw a DNR form signed by doctors.

A DNR is a medical document which tells healthcare providers not to undertake CPR if a patient stops breathing or if their heart stops beating.

Mr Burke, from Deal, Kent, said: ‘I consider a DNR a form of suicide. I might not be well, I can’t run any more, I can’t box any more, but I want to be here.

‘I’ve still got a life, I can still have a laugh, there is no reason why I should be dead. But I didn’t have a choice.

What are DNRs?

According to the NHS, DNACPR stands for ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’. DNACPR is sometimes called DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) or DNR (do not resuscitate) but they all refer to the same thing.

It means if someone’s heart or breathing stops, their healthcare team will not try to restart it through CPR.

A DNACPR decision is made by the patient and/or their doctor or health team. However, it can be made even if the patient does not agree.

If someone disagrees with the decision, they can ask for a second opinion and a review. The law provides them with the right to be involved in and informed of the decision.

‘If there is any chance of staying alive I think you should take it because I don’t think it’s fair on your family, or anyone else.’

Mr Burke suffers from seizures as a result of blood clots on the brain from past sporting injuries, which cause short term memory loss.

The DNR document states the decision was discussed with the couple during the visit on December 21 – but they dispute this.

Mrs Burke said: ‘When I saw Pat, he said to me, “I’m going to die”. He said, “the doctor has told me I need a DNR”. But we have always said we do not believe in them – he did this form while I wasn’t there.

‘When Pat has a seizure, it takes him two or three days to catch up with himself. On the form it says, “does the patient have capacity to talk about CPR?”

‘They circled yes – but he didn’t, because he wouldn’t have understood.’

And her husband added: ‘I just couldn’t understand how this had come about.

‘What worries me is that I’ve been to that hospital many times since 1997. I won’t go back there now.

‘You mustn’t take your own life and you mustn’t allow anyone else to take a life.

‘I’m alive because there are some tremendous doctors who have kept me alive and kept my heart ticking away.

‘I’m not going to let somebody stop that, and why should I? If you went outside and killed someone, you’d be done for murder.

‘There is a lot in life and it doesn’t end because someone decided you’ve got to die, that’s not the way it works.’

Sarah Shingler, chief nursing and midwifery officer for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs QEQM, said: ‘We are very sorry for the concern caused to Mr Burke and his family and we will contact him to discuss his care.’

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has been contacted for comment by

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