Incorrect use of Do Not Resuscitate orders, report finds

05/01/2021

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently completed a review into how Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitate (DNAR) orders were used during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michelle Monnes-Thomas, an FBC Manby Bowdler Partner specialising in providing legal advice to older and vulnerable people and their families, looks at the review’s findings.

The CQC reported that DNAR orders were used incorrectly in many cases.

It’s horrifying to think about DNAR orders being applied to groups of vulnerable people. This is not how they should be used and however stretched our health and care services are, this kind of disregard for older people is frightening.

Best practice guidelines have been set out by the Resuscitation Council UK, but they are not being followed everywhere. Too often, the consideration of what should happen in a person’s final moment is ignored or treated as a tick box exercise rather than prompting meaningful consultation with patients and loved ones.

There is clearly a need for all of us to initiate our own conversations about whether we’d want CPR, and also about our wider care wishes. Once we’re in an emergency situation it’s often too late.

Worryingly, only 59% of those aged 70+ have talked to loved ones about their care wishes. And whilst 81% of us think planning ahead for later life is important, only 22% of us have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, setting out our wishes in writing in a legally binding way.

As a country, we must start talking about our wishes should we lose mental and/or physical capacity or require emergency medical treatment. This recent investigation into the use of DNARs must encourage us all to have those difficult, but vital conversations, no matter our age.


Michelle Monnes-Thomas is a member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people. Michelle can be contacted using the details below.

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