Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors must ask carers before placing DNAR notices on files of mentally incapacitated patients

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 16 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6179
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1The BMJ

Doctors must consult the carers of patients who are mentally incapacitated before placing “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” (DNAR) notices on their files, the High Court has ruled in a landmark case.

Mr Justice Blake ruled that City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust breached the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK Mental Capacity Act in putting the notice in Carl Winspear’s records without first consulting his mother, Elaine Winspear.

The judge made it clear that the decision on whether to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation is one for the doctor to make in the best interests of the patient, exercising clinical judgment. But the Mental Capacity Act states that before making the decision, or acting …

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