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OBJECTIVES: A decision not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of cardiorespiratory arrest requires a discussion between the doctor and the patient and/or their relatives. We aimed to determine how many older patients admitted to acute medical wards had a pre-existing 'do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation' (DNACPR) decision, how many had one recorded on the ward and how many of those who died had a DNACPR decision in place. METHODS: A prospective cohort study, using data from medical records, of 481 consecutive patients aged ≥65 years admitted to the six acute medical wards of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. RESULTS: 105/481 (22%) had a DNACPR decision at ward admission, 30 of which had been made in the emergency unit. A further 45 decisions were recorded on the ward, mostly after discussion with relatives. Of the 37 patients who died, 36 had a DNACPR decision. For the 20 deceased patients whose DNACPR decision was recorded during their admission, the median time from documentation to death was 4 days with 7/20 (35%) recorded the day before death. CONCLUSIONS: Older patients with multimorbidity need the opportunity to discuss the role of CPR earlier in their care and preferably before acute hospital admission.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Support Palliat Care

Publication Date



chronic conditions, clinical decisions, communication, hospital care