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‘They’re trying to kill me’ – Great Yarmouth great-grandfather before his hospital death

PUBLISHED: 18:30 16 March 2015 | UPDATED: 18:30 16 March 2015

Michael Richardson died at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston in October 2013.

Michael Richardson died at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston in October 2013.

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A Norfolk widow has revealed her final conversation with her husband just hours before NHS staff followed a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice without consent.

Hospital statement

Medical director Nick Oligbo at the James Paget Hospital said: “Our sincere condolences go to the family of Mr Richardson, who sadly passed away in 2013. We understand this is a very distressing time for them.

“We are doing all we can to support the coroner during the ongoing inquest and we will consider the findings carefully and take any appropriate action in the interests of our patients.”

A Norfolk widow has revealed her final conversation with her husband just hours before NHS staff followed a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice without consent.

Former metal polisher and gardener Michael Richardson, 66, of Bath Hill Terrace, Great Yarmouth, died at James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston on October 27 2013.

His widow Janet, 66, has accused medics of playing God with his life after discovering that a do not resuscitate (DNR) notice had been placed on him without consent by the family or Mr Richardson.

He had been ill for several years with a lung condition which caused his breathing to stop but had been given more than a year to live.

Medical history

Michael Richardson had a significant medical history and was diagnosed with the lung-scarring condition pulmonary fibrosis in 2008, receiving oxygen therapy at home.

He had seven children, 15 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

On October 24 2013, his condition deteriorated and his family called an ambulance which took him to the accident and emergency department at the JPH. His wife said he had been moved between various wards.

Although his medical notes correctly identified pulmonary fibrosis as his main condition, he was initially treated for emphysema, his wife said.

When she pointed this out, doctors increased his oxygen levels.

At the inquest she described how her husband had been left to lie on soiled sheets and was not being regularly washed.

Dr Muhammad Arshad, who examined Mr Richardson the day before his death, said in his evidence yesterday that Mr Richardson had a chest infection and the existing lung condition.

He said that the prognosis had been “very bad” but could not recall if he had told his wife about this.

At the time of this examination, he had not been aware of the DNR notice.

Giving evidence at an inquest in Norwich yesterday, Mrs Richardson said her husband tried to discharge himself the day of his death over a concern about the levels of oxygen he was being given.

“He said, ‘I can’t breathe, take me home. I can’t stand it any more. They’re trying to kill me’” she told the coroner’s court. “I honesty believe that’s what he thought.”

“I said, ‘I love you’, and then he said he loved me too. That was the last time I saw him alive.

“I wish I’d bundled him up and taken him home because at least if he was going to die, he was going to die with some dignity.”

The inquest heard how the family learned of the DNR notice when they returned to the hospital to pick up Mr Richardson’s death certificate four days after he died.

Mrs Richardson said she visited the hospital twice a day so there would have been opportunities for staff to speak to her about the DNR.

Nine months after Mr Richardson’s death, the Court of Appeal ruled that doctors must involve patients in life-or-death resuscitation decisions unless doing so would actively harm them.

Nurse Louise Curtis, who was in charge on the day Mr Richardson died, described how staff had initially rushed to resuscitate him after an emergency alarm was activated.

But as they tried to save his life, a colleague checked his notes and pointed out the DNR notice so they stopped these efforts.

She added that staffing levels that day had been “unusually low” with herself and two agency nurses responsible for 27 patients. Normally the ward would have been staffed by four or five nurses.

The inquest will continue today.

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