Can anyone help?

Hi, I'm new here and I was just wondering if anyone was able to help; my step-grandfather has been in ICU for 4 weeks after suffering a freak-fall and becoming paralysed from the neck down. He is on a ventilator and has been having physio, whilst also being told that he is just waiting for a bed in a specialist spinal unit so he can receive more specialist care. He is completely aware of what is going on, is beginning to slowly breathe on his own and is talking to family for longer periods each day. However, after visiting this evening my parents were told that he had been informed by the consultant today, whilst on his own, that he wasn't expected to improve and a decision had to be made; did he wish to continue living on a ventilator with no movement below the neck, or did he wish for the ventilator to be switched off and he would die. I just can't believe that this option was even given to him as a patient and the lack of optimism from the doctors has shocked the whole family. I just wanted to know if anyone knew the ethical practice behind this, and if there was any cause to take this further as we are extremely upset by not only what was said, but how the matter has been approached.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!

3 Replies

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  • It is common practice to ask the question if a patient is terminally ill.

    I don't agree with this and also with the way the NHS deals with patients once a certain age or terminally ill.

    It's all about how much it's going to cost which is also wrong.

    Read about the Liverpool Care Path Way if you weren't aware of it. I believe it still goes on and our local hospital were negligent and guilty of my father's passing in March this year.

    From my own experiences and fathers, the NHS cant get any worse.

    The nurses and doctors do an amazing job but are too far stretched to deal with current demands.

  • Thanks for the reply; I agree with you on the matter of age. He's 78 but is otherwise completely healthy and was extremely active before the accident, he is no way terminally ill. It's almost as if he is being persuaded to give up because, let's face it, he's old.

    I'll have a look into the Liverpool Care Path Way and I'm sorry to hear of your father's passing.

    Thanks again for the advice, it's greatly appreciated!

  • Hello fayesuurn,

    To be honest, all you have to go on so far is what your relative told you transpired between his consultant and himself. And this at a time when he's extremely ill and probably extremely stressed too, and may not be hearing and comprehending correctly. I think that your first step ought to be to request a consultation with his consultant to ask what has actually been said. Otherwise this is what a court of law would call 'hearsay', i.e. you haven't directly been told that these are his two options.

    It does seem crass in the extreme that any doctor would just approach a patient in this way, and it just doesn't seem to sit right. So go ahead and ask for a dialogue to take place, not only about what you think might have been said to him, but about his prognosis and what the next steps in any recovery might be.

    Best wishes.

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