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Patients must be asked over "do not resuscitate" notes: court

18 June 2014

Patients must be informed and consulted before doctors mark their medical notes with a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) notice, the Court of Appeal in England ruled yesterday.

Three judges ruled that doctors at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, had acted unlawfully when they placed a DNR notice on the notes of Janet Tracey, a patient who had terminal lung cancer, without consulting either her or her family.

While guidelines already recommend that patients and families are involved in such decisions, doctors are no longer able to withhold consultation on the view that such information would cause distress.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the hospital violated Mrs Tracey's right to respect for her private life under article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. "A 'Do Not Attempt Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation' decision is one which will potentially deprive the patient of life-saving treatment, and there should be a presumption in favour of patient involvement", he commented.

"There need to be convincing reasons not to involve the patient."

 


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