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Family's resuscitation case goes on

The Court of Appeal is to decide a case brought by the family of a terminally-ill woman who was not consulted before a ''do not resuscitate'' (DNR) notice was placed on her medical records.

The legal issues surrounding the last days of 63-year-old Janet Tracey are likely to be heard by a panel headed by Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson at a two-day hearing on the first available date after March 21.

In 2012, High Court judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said the failure to inform or involve Mrs Tracey had ''minimal causative effect'', as the notice was cancelled five days later when her family objected.

She found that a second notice, which followed three days afterwards and two days before Mrs Tracey's death at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, in March 2011, was put in place with the agreement of her family, who were unwilling to speak to her about it.

The judge said there should be no further hearing of husband David Tracey's application for judicial review against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Health Secretary but today the Court of Appeal said her order was not, in the circumstances, justified.

Lord Justice Longmore said they did not consider that submissions by Mr Tracey's lawyers could be dismissed out of hand at this stage and that the points in relation to consultation with the patient and the right to a second opinion were, moreover, matters of some general importance.

Mrs Tracey, a care home manager, died following a transfer to Addenbrooke's after breaking her neck in a car crash on February 19, 2011 - two weeks after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The first notice, on February 27, was cancelled on March 2, while a second was imposed on March 5, two days before she died.

Mr Tracey, a retired engineer, has said his wife believed she was being ''badgered'' into making a decision about resuscitation options.

But the Trust says the claims are unsound and unfair, and that cardiopulmonary resuscitation would have been wholly inappropriate and not in the best interests of Mrs Tracey, who also had pneumonia and required ventilation.

Their position is that the decision to impose a DNR is ultimately a matter of clinical judgment, where appropriate weight should be given to the views of the patient and family.

Mr Tracey said today: " I am very pleased with this result, which means that the case now has the opportunity to remedy the current lack of information, making a real difference to other families while recognising the wrong done to Janet."

His legal firm, Leigh Day, said t he Court of Appeal would now be asked whether a lack of consultation with a patient and their family or a lack of explanation is in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which provides that: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life."

It will also tackle the Health Secretary on the lack of a nationwide policy of when and how DNR orders are applied.


From Belfast Telegraph