Dying man at Tameside hospital 'shocked to life' 31 times

Image copyright Irwin Mitchell
Image caption Brian Williams' defibrillator implant was left in, shocking him dozens of times after his life support was switched off

The family of a man who was "shocked back to life" 31 times after his life-support was turned off, said he had been denied a dignified death.

Brian Williams, from Manchester, who had a terminal brain tumour, was being treated at Tameside Hospital in 2012.

Doctors failed to turn off the 77-year-old's defibrillator implant after his family decided to allow him to die.

The hospital said it "unreservedly apologised" to the family and had agreed an out of court settlement.

In a statement, hospital bosses said end of life care practices had since been changed.

Lynda Beresford, one of Mr Williams' seven children, said his medical records should have been checked and the implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) switched off so "he could pass away peacefully".

"Instead we had to see him suffer as the defibrillator shocked him back to life more than 30 times in just two days.

"My dad's final wish for a dignified death was cruelly taken away from him," she said.

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Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD)

  • An ICD is inserted just under a patient's collar bone and is the size of a matchbox
  • Electrode leads pass through a vein into the heart
  • The ICD monitors the heart and can send an electric shock to restore normal rhythms
  • Newer forms of subcutaneous ICDs are implanted under the skin and have no leads into the heart.

Source: British Heart Foundation

She said the family realised what was happening when one of his sons-in-law got a shock while touching Mr Williams.

Once the ICD was deactivated, Mr Williams died within a few hours.

Representing the family, solicitors Irwin Mitchell said Tameside NHS Foundation Trust had agreed an undisclosed out of court settlement with the family.

The trust said it had made "significant changes" in the way it dealt with cases where patients were being allowed to die.

The most recent review by the Quality Care Commission praised the hospital's end of life care, a statement said.

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