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I mean it, do not resuscitate me!

n is what we commonly know as CPR. It is a procedure designed to restart your heart if you stop breathing and may involve chest compressions, electric shocks across the chest, attempts to ventilate the lungs and injection of drugs. As you can imagine it is a traumatic intervention which is only used as a last option. Most of the time it is unsuccessful with a survival rate of between 5 and 20% depending upon where CPR is received and often leaves damage such as broken ribs, punctured lungs and bruising.

If you do not wish to receive CPR then it is possible for you to ask for a do not resuscitate order to be placed on your medical records to highlight your wish. This should be done as part of advance care planning. DNRs are designed to protect you from receiving treatment you do not wish to receive and to make sure that your wishes are taken into account by treating medics.

It is important that a DNR is reviewed regularly and therefore when there is an admission to hospital or a care home the DNR conversation should be had and refreshed. If the individual receiving treatment lacks capacity a health and welfare attorney or close family members should be involved in DNR discussions to explore the thoughts, wishes, feelings and beliefs of the person affected.

It is also possible for medical professionals to made DNR decisions and agreement should be gained, where possible, from the whole care team involved in care. Where a professional makes a DNR decision it should be made following a very careful assessment of the patient'sl situation and should never be governed by blanket policies. Decisions must be free from discrimination and not made on what the medic considers to be quality of life but that of the person they are treating. It is worth noting that if a professional has placed a DNR order on the records of a patient, with capacity, there is a legal duty on that professional to advise them what they have done.

Since Covid there have been some worrying conversations and stories about people in care homes and on Covid wards having DNRs placed on them as part of blanket policies. This should never happen. If you are worried about whether there is a DNR on your medical record or that of a family member ASK! They can be removed as easily as they are put on. But not only that, make sure you have a health and welfare power of attorney in place so that if you reach a point when you are not able to make decisions about CPR someone is there, in your shoes, to make the decision for you.

If you need any help or guidance following this article please give our team in the office a call on 01622 843729.


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