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08 December 2020

Covid-19: Do not resuscitate orders may have been used without consent

2 mins

It has been suggested by the care watchdog that doctors may have made judgments about “do not resuscitate orders” without consent, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

A do not resuscitate order, or DNR, is an order written by a doctor. It tells health care providers not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the patient’s heart stops beating, or if their breathing stops.

The Care Quality Commission have warned that failing to fully consider a patient or their loved ones options is a breach of their human rights.

Despite reminding care providers of their duties and responsibility to the patient, the CQC said it had received evidence from staff and patients’ families that DNR orders had been applied without discussion.

This is particularly concerning for patients with a limited understanding of English or disabilities such as deafness, who may not be able to fully understand their decision or have not be given ample opportunity to communicate and discuss their wishes.

We are concerned to see the CQC report outlining a jump in complaints around Do Not Resuscitate orders being used incorrectly. While the NHS has been under extreme pressure this year there is a potential risk for claims.

If you have agreed to a DNR or if you think one has been ordered without your consent, you are entitled to change your mind and should speak to your doctor or health care team.

The CQC is due to publish its final report into the extent to which DNRs may have been misused during the pandemic in February 2021.

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