Whistleblower 9: 'Do not resuscitate' orders 'mistakenly' assigned to hospitalized man

by: Paul Boyd Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Whistleblower 9 investigation is raising serious question about "do not resuscitate" protocol at Carolinas HealthCare System.

Charlotte resident John Crowell checked into Carolinas Medical Center Mercy in July to treat a skin infection and required overnight hospitalization.

The 57-year-old said everything was going fine until a nurse came into his room the second night and tried to put a "do not resuscitate" bracelet on his wrist.

"I had never authorized it," Crowell said.

Crowell shared his medical records with investigative reporter Paul Boyd. The "do not resuscitate" and "do not intubate" orders appear twice, along with the variation, "no code blue."

The documents reveal that the potentially life-ending order was in effect for at least 23 hours.

"I was scared, terrified actually. I was angry. I felt violated," Crowell said.

Crowell said his doctor asked him about a DNR, but said he never made a decision and never signed any documents.

"No one has been able to tell me how this happened," Crowell said.

Crowell took his concerns to Carolinas HealthCare System and eventually received a letter saying that there was a "miscommunication."

But Crowell said it was a blatant mistake.

Boyd asked Carolinas HealthCare System to explain how the life-altering protocols work at its hospitals. 

Carolinas HealthCare System officials released a statement to Channel 9:

"The safety and care of our patients is the top priority of Carolinas HealthCare System. Carolinas HealthCare System diligently follows all statutes and regulations regarding both patient-signed Advanced Directives, also referred to as Living Wills, and physician-signed Do Not Resuscitate orders. Do Not Resuscitate orders are orders placed directly into a patient’s file by a physician following a discussion with a patient, and a confirmation from a patient or their proxy. A Do Not Resuscitate order can also be placed in a patient’s file with a properly signed and authorized Advanced Directive from a patient or the patient’s family/proxy. If a patient has questions or concerns about their care, we are committed to working diligently and directly with the patient to answer questions and resolve any issues.  We encourage open communication and patient feedback as it helps us continuously improve our processes and the services we provide."

"I want them to start requiring every doctor talking to every patient about this subject, that the proper documentation is required and signed and documented in the patient's file," Crowell said.

Whistleblower 9 investigated the doctor who CHS said initiated the DNR order. It turns out he just graduated from medical school last year and is working under a "resident training license."

Crowell said the hospital made a follow-up phone call to him saying their system will be better because he spoke out. Crowell also said that after leaving the hospital he submitted an "advanced directive" that specifically outlines his wishes and functions as a living will.