Teacher Fiona, 44, was furious after a paramedic in ambulance told her that her file advised against CPR if she suffered a cardiac arrest.
A superfit teacher with a heart condition was shocked to find her medical records instructing paramedics not to give CPR if she suffered a cardiac arrest. Fiona McVey, 44, is now demanding to know if health authorities are routinely marking files with such instructions due to the current NHS crisis.
Primary school teacher Fiona, from Clydebank, was taken to hospital in an ambulance after an infection caused a flare-up in a heart arrhythmia. She was stunned when a paramedic noted that her medical file was marked in February 2020 as DNACPR (do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation) which would mean leaving her to die if she had a cardiac arrest.
Fiona ordered husband Scott to follow the ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow in case the nightmare scenario happened. In the end Fiona received routine treatment and was allowed to go home six hours after being admitted on Wednesday last week.
She said: “I was horrified to see that I was marked up as someone that should not be resuscitated. I am just 44 and I love life. I have a heart condition so having a cardiac arrest is something I have had to think about – but I most certainly want medics to do all they can to bring me around if that ever had to happen.”
Alarmingly, Fiona said one medic at Queen Elizabeth Hospital told her that all patients with serious heart and lung conditions were being marked up as DNACPR, whether they had discussed it or not. She said: “My GP and the hospital said they do not have the DNACPR on their file and that it must just be the emergency ambulance service.
“One professional I spoke to said that people over 55 and people with serious heart and lung conditions were being marked up like that. I read several stories during the Covid crisis about similar stuff happening and I would be horrified to think that there has been some kind of policy shift that might lead to people being allowed to die.”
Fiona, who has an 11-year-old son, was this week enjoying skiing in Bearsden and regularly takes part in gymnastics, badminton and other sports. Her heart condition has occasionally brought on atrial fibrillation, which makes the heart beat erratically, but can be managed with medication.
Fiona said there should be an urgent investigation, adding: “If a blanket DNACPR has been issued for large groups of people without their knowledge and consent, then people need to know.
“I have contacted my GP and health board. My GP has told me that they will try to get it removed, and the health board have not responded. Meanwhile I am left feeling very anxious that I will not receive CPR if I were to need it.”
Age Concern Scotland previously demanded an investigation after it became clear that many older patients were being classified as DNACPR.
Chief Executive Mark O’Donnell said his body’s calls for DNARs to be a key focus of the inquiry into Scotland’s Covid deaths have been heeded. He said: “It is deeply concerning that we are still hearing instances of patients discovering that a DNAR order has been applied to them without their knowledge, and, on the face of it, no logical reason for this to be the case.”
He added: “No one should be made to feel that their lives and wishes somehow matter less than others. t begs the question of how many more people across the country are affected by this, who would only discover in an emergency situation that they have already effectively been written off.”
A Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) spokesman said: “The SAS has no role in determining which patients have a DNACPR certificate in place.
“Such decisions are only made between individual patients, families, or carers and the clinicians responsible for their ongoing care and treatment. We do not recognise the comments relating to either clinical conditions or patient age attributed to a medical professional.
“These comments are completely inaccurate and do not reflect in any way SAS clinical practice.”
A NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHSGCC) spokesperson said: “We are sorry for any distress which may have been caused to Ms McVey and would be keen for her to get in touch to discuss her care experience.Following a full review, we can confirm a DNACPR did not originate from NHSGGC services, however, we are working with Scottish Ambulance Service to review the details of this case.