A report into learning disability deaths has found that more than 80 “do not resuscitate” orders issued last year were “not correctly completed” or not followed.
Academics from The University of Bristol found that some do not attempt resuscitation orders given to people with learning disabilities – known as DNRs – were not filled out correctly.
Issues included “no evidence of proper decision making” being documented or the reason for the decision being an “inappropriate medical condition”.
Researchers said that they saw an example of a DNR order being given “without any family involvement, although [the patient’s sister] had power of attorney for his health and welfare”.
In other instances, “the rationale for the decision was based on an inappropriate medical condition or impairment or circumstance of the individual”, including “learning disability” or “down syndrome”.
The disclosure is likely to fuel concerns that some of the most vulnerable members of society did not receive adequate care during the pandemic.
Academics from The University of Bristol produce the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review – LeDer – which examines learning disabilities deaths each year.
The report for this year, published on Thursday, compared deaths of people with learning disabilities from the last three years.
They found that there had been a “significant increase in the number of deaths at the peak of the pandemic,” with more than 660 people dying in April – more than double the same month in the previous year.
The report also examined the use of DNRs.
The notices stop doctors attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart a patient’s heart.
NHS guidance says that DNRs “should not be made on the basis of a learning disability, autism and/or mental health”, but documents seen by academics compiling the LeDer report suggest this has been ignored by medics on some occasions because up to 85 were found to be “incorrectly completed or followed”, which represented six per cent.
A further 23 per cent were described as “not known by reviewer”, meaning it was unclear whether the DNR was correctly given or followed by medics. A report into learning disability deaths has found that more than 80 “do not resuscitate” orders issued last year were “not correctly completed” or not followed.