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Do not resuscitate requests 'ignored'

1st June 2012

New evidence has suggested that hospital patients are being resuscitated against their wishes.

Old Hands

In some cases cardiac arrest and terminally ill patients were being revived when it was not in their best interest, often against a specific request that they be allowed to die.

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report investigated the care of 526 patients who had suffered a cardiac arrest in NHS hospitals in England and Wales over a two-week period in 2010, and underwent a resuscitation attempt.

In 70% of cases, their care was less than good and in a third of cases, poor care was judged to have contributed to their death, while nine out of ten were never asked about their wishes should they suffer an arrest despite NHS guideless recommending doctors discuss this with seriously patients and their families.

NCEPOD Chairman Mr Bertie Leigh said: “In nearly half of all the cases we reviewed there was a failure to formulate an appropriate care plan on admission, and a failure, often over several days, to find out what the patient’s wishes were - and to carry them out.”

The Patients Association said the findings exposed a failure of communication in hospitals that would shake the trust of patients and their families.

Dr Mark Temple, acute care fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, said many patients being considered for do not resuscitate orders were elderly, so would have a low rate of success, but he added there may be circumstances when ignoring the order may be justified.

 

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