Intended for healthcare professionals


Do not resuscitate decisions: flogging dead horses or a dignified death?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1155

Resuscitation should not be withheld from elderly people without discussion

  1. Shah Ebrahim, professor in epidemiology of ageing.
  1. MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PR

    An elderly woman died in hospital and her family, investigating her care, found “NFR” (not for resuscitation) on her notes. There had been no discussion about this with either her or them. An independent review upheld the family's complaints and noted, “It was hard to avoid the conclusion that the treatment plan … was to do little more than allow the patient's life to ebb away.” This is just one of a dossier of over 50 case histories assembled by Age Concern England that have been publicised in newspapers in the United Kingdom, and it is part of the charity's wider campaign to eradicate ageism in the health service.1 2

    Last year the British Medical Association, the Resuscitation Council (UK), and the Royal College of Nursing jointly said that do not resuscitate orders could be considered only after …

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