Observations Ethics Man

Cautionary tales about DNACPR

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i26 (Published 05 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i26
  1. Daniel K Sokol, barrister and medical ethicist
  1. 1112 King’s Bench Walk, London, UK
  1. Sokol{at}12kbw.co.uk

Doctors must consult patients and families, even if they think resuscitation would be futile

Decisions about inappropriate DNACPR (“Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation”) orders continue to make headlines.1 Some will remember the landmark case of Janet Tracey,2 3 who was given a diagnosis of lung cancer in February 2011. A few weeks later she broke her neck in a road traffic crash and was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. The Court of Appeal for England and Wales later found that the anaesthetist completed a DNACPR notice without discussing it with Tracey. This failure to involve the patient, the court held, breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights—namely, the right to respect for private life (which includes respect for the patient’s autonomy, integrity, dignity, and quality of life).4

In a recent blog post the solicitor from the firm Leigh …

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