Skip to main content

Palliative Care

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department’s policy is on “do not resuscitate” decisions. (228447)

Individual decisions about resuscitation, like all treatment decisions, are a matter for the health professionals and patients involved. Health professionals should discuss possible treatment options with patients, including, where appropriate, whether resuscitation should be attempted. If it is agreed that resuscitation should not be attempted, then this agreement should be noted in the person’s medical records (a “do not attempt resuscitation” order). As with other treatments, a person with capacity can make an advance decision to refuse resuscitation, which must be followed if it is valid and applicable.

If the patient does not have the capacity to make the decision, then health professionals will need to make treatment decisions in line with the Mental Capacity Act. The decision must be made in the person’s best interests, which includes consideration of the person’s wishes and preferences and the person’s medical condition and the likely success of resuscitation, in discussion with the person’s family and friends.

Trusts and other organisations should have resuscitation policies in place that reflect clinical best practice and the legal position.