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Misuse of do-not-resuscitate orders risks undermining care, warn leading clinicians and charities

The unlawful or inappropriate use of “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” (DNACPR) orders by some clinicians risks undermining the care of terminally ill patients, almost 40 leading doctors, nurses and charities have warned.

During the coronavirus pandemic repeated examples of unlawful decisions have emerged including widespread blanket orders on care home residents and patients with learning disabilities.

Now the charity Compassion in Dying along with Marie Curie, Hospice UK and Sue Ryder, as well as more than 30 GPs, nurses and doctors, are warning more must be done to listen to patients and their families.

In a joint statement, signed by more than 30 clinicians, they warn: “There have been examples of poor practice in relation to DNACPR decision-making during the pandemic, and the distressing impact this has had on patients and families cannot be underestimated. It is essential to thoroughly understand and learn from these cases to ensure that they do not happen again."

“We are aware that the benefits of DNACPR decisions can be easily undone if they are not accompanied by honest, open and sensitive communication with a person’s healthcare team. To ensure that everybody who encounters a DNACPR discussion has a positive experience, we need to do more to listen to individuals and their families; their wishes must be sought and documented, their questions answered and their feelings acknowledged.

“A DNACPR decision must always involve the person, or those close to them, and should be part of a wider conversation about what matters to that individual.”

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Source: The Independent, 8 March 2021


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