Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate Orders: East trial could go nationwide

New guidelines that aim to improve end of life care could be issued nationwide following a trial in hospitals in the East of England.

Dr Zoe Fritz, who oversaw the project, said the current “ad hoc” arrangement often led to an “undignified death”. She wants nationwide guidelines, based on what was trialled, covering Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate Orders (DNAR). “We found that doctors found it easier to have decisions and most importantly patients got better care,” she said. Legally, doctors do not need patient consent to issue a DNAR, but they must have consulted the patient beforehand.

Dr Fritz, a consultant physician who has studied DNARs at Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge and at the West Suffolk Hospital, said: “Different doctors have different ways of deciding when someone should be for resuscitation. “The worst case is you start [to resuscitate] and someone who has had a peaceful death then wakes up briefly to find all these people around them, tubes in them, blood everywhere and then dies. “And unfortunately I’ve seen that on more than one occasion.”

The number of DNAR hospital complaints in the East of England has risen from seven in 2012 to 45 in 2014.  A year ago, a Hertfordshire family took their DNAR complaint to the Court of Appeal. In a landmark judgement, the court ruled that the human rights of Janet Tracey were violated when she was placed under a DNAR order at Addenbrooke’s without consultation.

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Janet Tracey, who had terminal lung cancer, died in 2011

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