Do Not Attempt CPR Decisions

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation known as CPR, is a treatment administered during a medical emergency, when you stop breathing (respiratory arrest) or your heart stops beating (cardiac arrest). Some people do not make a full recovery after having CPR, depending on their health or condition, and this is why they may choose not to receive CPR or treatments that may cause suffering at the end of life.

DNACPR stands for Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. DNACPR means if your heart or breathing stops your healthcare team will not try to restart it. DNACPR is sometimes called DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) or DNR (do not resuscitate).

DNACPR is not legally binding. If you wish to make your DNACPR decision legally binding, then you should write an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT). An ADRT explains when you want to refuse CPR (or other treatment).

A DNACPR decision is made by you and/or your doctor or healthcare team and is recorded on a special form. The form is kept in your medical records, and a copy may be kept with you. You and the people important to you should know that a DNACPR form has been put in your medical records.

A DNACPR form can be written for a short period, or it can be written with no end date – for example, if you have a long-term condition. You can change your mind about a DNACPR at any time, and you will need to tell your GP, doctors, and nurses.  

Your doctor can make a DNACPR decision even if you do not agree, but must tell you and you should be given the chance to understand how the decision was made. For example, your doctor may think that CPR could cause more harm due to organ damage caused by your illness. If you disagree you can ask for a second opinion and a review. The law does not require your consent to a DNACPR, but it provides you the right to be informed about and involved in the a doctor’s decision.

If you lack capacity to make decisions, doctors should first check to see if you have an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT), and also check to see if you have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and care decisions. If you do not have an ADRT or an LPA, then a best interest decision is made by the senior doctor.

A DNACPR decision must be made on an individual (person by person) basis, and never for a group of people at once. For example, for a group of people over a certain age. This is unlawful, irrespective of medical condition, age, disability, race, or language. Learning disability, autism or dementia are not reasons to put a DNACPR on someone’s record.

If you are interested in having a DNACPR or Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment speak with your GP.