Punish Hospital Staff for Violating Patient’s Human Rights


Target: Chief Executive Officer of Addenbroke’s Hospital Dr. Keith McNeil

Goal: Punish medical staff that violated a patient’s human rights by recommending that she not be revived without first consulting with her or her family

Janet Tracey was a patient at Addenbroke’s Hospital, where a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order was issued without her or her family’s consent. Approximately three years after her death a court ruled that this decision violated her human rights. The medical staff caring for her at the time of her death failed to look out for her well-being, and they have yet to be held accountable for failing to consult with Tracy or her family.

Tracey, who was 63, broke her neck in a car accident shortly after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After her death in March, 2011 family members were stunned to learn that doctors did not attempt to resuscitate her. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a painful procedure intended to get blood flowing back into a patient’s brain. It can potentially cause rib fractures and even significant brain damage, but is only intended as a last resort when a patient is almost certain to die otherwise.

Sadly, medical facilities in the United Kingdom often make the final decision about what happens to patients in their care. Policies are often confusing and aggravating for family members and patients. According to the Daily Mail a whopping seven out of 10 people breathe their last breath in a hospital, and roughly 80% of these deaths occur with a DNR in place. Healthcare inspectors and others in the medical field have expressed concern about the way DNR orders are given to patients. The British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and the Resuscitation Council have begun a review of current guidelines.

The medical staff involved in taking care of Janet Tracey should be punished for violating her rights.Neither she nor her family were consulted about this decision not to try and resuscitate her. The staff had no right to let her die. Urge the hospital’s chief executive officer to discipline all those involved.


Dear Dr. McNeil,

The case of Janet Tracey has upset many in the United Kingdom and around the world. Her death has brought to light the problems of DNR orders, which are frequently issued without consulting patients or their families. This is a huge violation of human rights, and I hope your hospital staff will be more proactive in saving the lives of patients who are close to death.

While patients’ families depend on hospital staff for their training in life-or-death situations, family members should have more of a say in decisions affecting their life and death. It angers me that so many patients have DNR orders placed on their medical records without first consulting them or their families, or even advising them of the fact. A patient should never have such a decision made for them by a stranger. I demand that the hospital staff involved in Tracey’s case be punished for violating her rights, for failing to consult with her or her family, and for failing to attempt to revive her.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Yury Masloboev via Wikimedia Commons

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