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An audit of “do not attempt resuscitation” decisions in two district general hospitals: do current guidelines need changing?
  1. Dylan Harris1,
  2. Rachel Davies2
  1. 1Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, South Wales, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrissant, South Wales, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D Harris
 Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, South Wales, 15 Llwyn Y Grant Terrace, Penylan, Cardiff CF23 9EW, UK; dgharris{at}doctors.org.uk

Abstract

Introduction: Doctors in all specialties are involved in making “do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) decisions; this can be a difficult and challenging process. Guidelines exist to provide an ethical and legal framework for the process and documentation of these decisions.

Objective: To audit the documentation of resuscitation decisions in a sample of medical inpatients from two district general hospitals.

Method: A retrospective case note audit of 50 medical inpatients, in which a DNAR decision had been made (28 from hospital 1, 22 from hospital 2).

Results: Average age was 78.9 years (48% male:52% female). In both hospitals DNAR decisions were usually discussed with relatives (84%), documented in nursing notes (100%) and made by senior team members (90%). Although the decision was usually dated and clearly documented (98%), abbreviations were commonly used in hospital 2 (45.5% vs 0% in hospital 1, p<0.05). Decisions regarding other treatment were not consistently documented (78.6% and 72.7%, respectively) and there was little evidence that decisions were reviewed (14.3% and 31.8%). The decision was rarely discussed with the patient (6% of all patients), although 66% of patients were not in a position to have a discussion.

Conclusions: Specific forms for recording DNAR decisions improve the clarity of documentation. Current recommendations to discuss resuscitation with patients are controversial and not followed. However, many patients are not in a position to hold a discussion when the need arises and the guidelines should advocate early discussion during a hospital admission in patients where this is appropriate, prior discussion with family and/or wider use of advanced directives.

  • CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • DNAR, do not attempt resuscitation
  • GMC, General Medical Council

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

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