Controversy after deaf man unable to communicate wasn't consulted
Scottish charity Deaf Action claims that NHS doctors gave a deaf man a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order without his knowledge or consent after citing “communication difficulties.”
The charity is now saying it is concerned the NHS and healthcare professionals do not consider deaf people worth saving.
The profoundly deaf man, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a resident at Deaf Action’s supported accommodation for deaf adults in Slateford Green, Edinburgh.
He is in his 60s, with a good quality of life and had no knowledge of the decision that had been made for him.
The man was given the DNR order at a recent routine hospital appointment, without any communication support. The order states that “in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest no attempt to at cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are intended.”
When support staff at Deaf Action saw the DNR order, they saw that the reason given was “communication difficulties.”
The team at Deaf Action discussed the DNR order with the man, and swiftly arranged an appointment with his GP.
A BSL/English interpreter was arranged for the appointment, so that the GP could discuss the DNR with the man, ensuring it was lifted.
Alison Richards, Support Manager at Slateford Green said: “We were shocked with the gentleman came back from his appointment and handed us the letter. He had no idea what it was, so asked us about it.
“We can’t believe he was given a DNR order without consulting with him.
“Everybody has a right to make a decision about their health, and that includes deaf people.”
The charity stresses that deaf people have a right to communication and must be given access to interpreters and communication support, especially within hospitals and medical settings.
They have a right to know what is being discussed, and a right to make decisions about themselves.
Gordon Hay, head of operations at Deaf Action said: “It’s a shocking failure that ‘communication difficulties’ were cited on this DNR order.
“British Sign Language was formally recognised in Scotland in 2015, so deaf people have a legal right to access information in BSL.
“Provision for language interpreters is absolutely vital – they provide smooth communication between deaf and hearing people, and that communication can stop problems like this from happening in the first place.
“It doesn’t matter what language we use - ‘communication difficulties’ should not be a reason to potentially end a person’s life.”