Why has CPR become a reflex response in hospitals rather than allowing nature to take its course?

There was a large national and international response to my column questioning the inappropriate use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) among certain patients. Readers, patients, relatives, emergency medical technicians, doctors and nurses wrote describing their good and (mainly) bad experiences of CPR in the frail elderly.

Based on your feedback, the issue is two-pronged: the indiscriminate use of CPR among older people simply because there is no DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) order in place; and in some ways the more worrying scenario whereby signed DNACPR orders are ignored in hospitals and nursing homes.

This response was one of many illustrating the problem of advance directives not being acknowledged.

It came from the daughter of a 96-year- old recovering in hospital from surgery for a fractured hip: “We had discussed CPR (with our mother) should anything happen and we told those in charge our instructions that she was not to be resuscitated.

We went in to say we had asked for her to be left to die but were ordered out

“However, a week after the surgery my mother collapsed. I went to inform the nurses and they took over.

“Put us out of the ward, pulled the curtains and all services flew into the ward of three people. We went in to say we had asked for her to be left to die but were ordered out. We know it was written in red on her chart. We all sat numbed and waited as there was nothing we could do and we were all there, her four children. About 1½ hours later we were shown our mother all white and dead.”(…) Read Full Publication Here

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