Michael Richardson inquest: Death put down to natural causes

Michael Richardson, 66, of Great Yarmouth, died in 2013 at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. Image copyright Family handout
Image caption A doctor told the inquest it would be "futile and cruel" to attempt to save Mr Richardson

A great-grandfather who was given an unrequested do not resuscitate notice (DNR) by hospital staff died of natural causes, a coroner has concluded.

Michael Richardson, 66, of Great Yarmouth, died in 2013 at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

The former metal polisher and gardener had been ill with a lung condition but was given more than a year to live.

His widow accused NHS staff of "playing God". The inquest in Norwich found medics were following guidelines.

Image caption Janet Richardson told the inquest she wished she had taken her husband home to "die with some dignity"

Giving evidence at the inquest, Janet Richardson, 65, said her husband tried to discharge himself the day before his death because he was concerned about the levels of oxygen he was being given.

The inquest heard the family learned of the DNR notice when they picked up Mr Richardson's death certificate.

The coroner was told that on 27 October 2013, at about 15:15 GMT, an emergency alarm sounded and Mr Richardson was found slumped in his bed with his oxygen mask off after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Staff rushed to save him but abandoned their attempts when the DNR was brought to their attention.

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption The grandfather of 15 had been ill with pulmonary fibrosis for several years

Dr Anna Blackburn, a consultant specialising in respiratory medicine, told the inquest she took the decision about the DNR notice.

She said Mr Richardson had little chance of surviving a cardiac arrest and attempting to save him would be "futile and cruel".

The inquest heard that in 2013 the hospital's policy not to share the DNR decision with patients in case it caused them distress was within national guidelines, which have since changed.

Anna Hills, associate director at the hospital, offered the family her "sincere condolences".

"The coroner's expert witness agreed our doctor acted properly when applying the guidance in Mr Richardson's case," she said.

The hospital has updated its resuscitation policy in line with the new guidelines.

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