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Paramedics to be told of patients' end-of-life wishes

13th October 2011

New plans by the Department of Health to extend the use of electronic medical records will mean paramedics will be made aware of a patient’s end-of-life wishes.

The move follows a ministerial review into Summary Care Records, which gives GPs, hospitals and paramedics patient information such as allergies or their medication.

Now, patients with serious illnesses are being encouraged to add extra information – in consultation with a GP – which could include whether they want to be resuscitated and if they wish to die at home.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: “Some seriously ill patients have added information about their end of life wishes to their record, helping to ensure that their wishes, typically to die at home, are respected.

“This is because information about their wishes can be shared with everyone, including most critically, out-of-hours doctors and paramedics, involved in their care.”

Jim Petter, Director of Professional Standards at the College of Paramedics, welcomed the plans, particularly over any “do not resuscitate” order.

He said: “Paramedics are often entering a very intense situation and have to balance trying to verify the document with the need to start treatment quickly if the evidence doesn’t stack up.”

He said that at present, in the absence of firm written evidence that the patient does not wish to be resuscitated, paramedics would go ahead and treat them.

The changes to give paramedics greater access to electronic medical records with more detail on them have been supported by the charities Asthma UK and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

 

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