Deaf News: Scandal of deaf man ‘treated as if he had dementia’ in hospital

Posted on December 17, 2013

Yesterday we wrote about how Deaf people in Britain are struggling to access sign language and communication support, particularly in hospitals, and a story from this morning has shown just how much of a problem this is.

The BBC in South East Wales has reported that a deaf man, who is 80, was treated as if he had dementia by hospital staff.

No-one had written down that he was deaf, and as well as fitting him with a catheter for no good reason, the staff at the hospital also didn’t tell him he might have cancer. The ombudsman has upheld the complaint, and the Health Board has apologised.


The man, known as Mr W as his family have chosen to remain anonymous, was admitted to the hospital for a time in September 2011 with a possible chest infection and then again the following month, where he died.

His widow, Mrs W, complained that her husband’s care was compromised because staff did not consider his deafness, even though she told them about it.

The family was also not told of a cancer diagnosis while he was in hospital, with them only learning of it later from their GP, she said.

The woman said her husband was given a catheter – something she thought he would consider “humiliating” – even though he was not incontinent.

She complained that she thought her husband was catheterised for the convenience of staff.

Her husband fell while trying to walk to the toilet because he did not like the catheter and there were no rails around his bed to prevent such a fall.

Acting Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Prof Margaret Griffiths found the health board failed to:

  • Record a significant clinical discussion with Mr W about scan results
  • Complete and record appropriate assessments relating to the risk of falling and the use of bed rails
  • Consult Mr W and record his consent for the insertion of a catheter
  • Follow national and local guidance on effective discharge planning
  • Keep appropriate records related to the discharge process
  • Follow relevant guidance on record-keeping

She said: “In any clinical situation it is clearly important to identify whether or not a person is able to hear and, if not, to identify a suitable way to communicate properly with them.”

Read the full story here:

See our other shocking deaf health stories:

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.  Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: deaf news