Report Highlights CPR Decisions For Acutely-Ill Patients

A watchdog has found that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has wrongly been the default setting for frail elderly patients.

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death, which reviewed the care given to 585 acutely-ill patients with an average age of 77, ended up having a cardiac arrest, found it had wrongly become default. They said it should be assessed if resuscitation is necessary.

The review of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found staff were not properly assessing patients conditions and were failing to spot the warning signs of an impending cardiac arrest with over a third being preventable.

Performing CPR in inappropriate cases could result in a distressing and undignified death, the report found.

Details CPR preference was recorded in the notes of only 122 patients of these there were 52 cases where doctors had performed resuscitation on patients who had explicitly said they did not want it.

NCEPOD chairman Bertie Leigh said: "We are at a crossroads. All of us need to recognise and accept the limits of what can be achieved in medicine to the benefit of the patient."

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, added: "Patients and relatives deserve to have all of their options communicated to them in full and then to take the decision that they feel is best for them.

"Once that decision has been taken, they should be able to trust clinicians to implement it."


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