Resuscitate requests: Your views
- 1 June 2012
- From the section UK
A review of hospital cases has shown some doctors have been ignoring the explicit wishes of elderly patients not to be resuscitated, should they suffer a cardiac arrest.
Researchers examined the treatment given to more than 500, mainly elderly patients, in NHS hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
BBC News website readers have been sharing their stories.
Michael Limb, London
My mother was 87 years old when she collapsed as I was walking her to my car.
The paramedic and ambulance team tried to resuscitate her with CPR and breathing bellows for about 18 minutes on the pavement outside her residential home.
It was distressing for me and certainly undignified but I felt they were doing their best to help.
I was told she was being kept artificially alive with adrenaline and that even if she recovered she would have no quality of life.
I was asked to accept this and agree to end the resuscitation. I was very upset but was forced to accept the logic of their reasoning.
I was quite unprepared for the death of the this self-sufficient, ambulant and mentally fully alive person who had seemed so well just a week ago.
Had the paramedics and nurses not made any attempt to keep her alive, I think I would have been horrified.
An NHS paramedic
I have worked as a paramedic in the NHS Ambulance Service for 25 years.
My colleagues and I are deeply concerned about the report's central findings. Everyday my team has to make split second decisions about how to administer treatment and prolong life.
In the past, we used to be able assess a patient's condition and determine whether that person should receive CPR.
If we were dealing with a patient who was elderly, frail and had a painful, chronic condition we might decide to let nature take its course, rather than prolong their agony.
Now, all too often and regardless of the circumstances paramedics are told to view resuscitation as the accepted default position, causing unimaginable distress to that patient's loved ones.
Stringent regulation, although vital to prevent abuse, has turned us into automated drones, showing no compassion in what are futile attempts at preserving life.
I find it both upsetting and annoying that paramedics are there just to tick boxes.
Paramedics do not want anyone to suffer an undignified death.
John Frewen-Lord, Nettleton, Lincolnshire
My 92-year-old mother finally passed away just two weeks ago.
After undergoing a massive infection, she spent the last two-and-a-half years, albeit in a wonderful care home, with very advanced dementia, really little more than a vegetable.
In spite of my previous instructions not to resuscitate should she ever become ill, the paramedics called out did just that.
She was never fully well after that, and both myself, the rest of her immediate family, as well as the care home itself, all agreed that it would have been better if she had been allowed to slip away peacefully.
The last two-and-a-half years have been very distressing for all of us, seeing her alive, yet knowing she did not even know who we were, unable to even talk to us.
This is an issue that for me is two-and-a-half years too late being discussed - but hopefully others can benefit form the outcome.
Yvonne Sherry, Torquay
My husband died at home following a protracted and painful illness. When I discovered his body I called by GP who advised me to call an ambulance.
The paramedics spent almost an hour trying to resuscitate him, which was both unnecessary and distressing for me.
In view of what happened to my husband I have now asked my GP to put a DNR on all my medical records. Unfortunately I have been told that no-one takes any notice of it.
There is a complete lack of regard for one's personal wishes and a waste of medical personnel and resources.
George Bremer, Long Sutton, Lincolnshire
My elderly mother is 90 years old and she has had two emergency operations.
One was a colostomy and the surgeon advised us that her chances of survival were small and should he resuscitate if it was necessary.
My sister, my two brothers and I all agreed that my mother should not be resuscitated if there were complications during her surgery.
The decision was unanimous and I'm glad my siblings consulted me. At the time I was living about 100 miles away from the family home.
Fortunately mum survived her operations but none of our family regretted our decision. I believe we make the same choice again.
There should be dignity in life and dignity in passing.