A comparative study on decision and documentation of refraining from resuscitation in two medical home care units in Sweden

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Abstract

Background: A decision to refrain from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the case of cardiac arrest is recommended in terminally ill patients to avoid unnecessary suffering at time of death. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of decisions and documentation of "do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation" (DNACPR) in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. Unit A had written guidelines about how to document CPR-decisions in the medical records, including a requirement for a decision to be taken (CPR: yes/no) while Unit B had no such requirement. Method: The medical records for all patients in palliative phase of their disease at the two Units were reviewed. Data was collected on documentation of decisions about CPR (yes/no), DNACPR-decisions and documentation regarding whether the patient or next-of-kin had been informed about the DNACPR-decision. Results: In the two Units, 316 and 219 patients in palliative phase were identified. In Unit A 100% of the patients had a CPR-decision (yes/no) compared to 79% in Unit B (p < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in DNACPR-decisions between the two Units, 43 and 37%. Documentation about informing the patient regarding the decision was significantly higher in Unit A, 53% compared to 14% at Unit B (p < 0.001). Documentation about informing the next-of-kin was also significantly higher at Unit A; 42% compared to 6% at Unit B (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Less than 50% of patients in palliative phase had a decision of DNACPR in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. The presence of written guidelines and a requirement for a CPR-decision did not increase the frequency of DNACPR-decisions but was associated with a higher frequency of documentation of decisions and of information given to both the patients and the next-of-kin.

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Sterpu, B., Lindman, P., & Björkhem-Bergman, L. (2019). A comparative study on decision and documentation of refraining from resuscitation in two medical home care units in Sweden. BMC Palliative Care, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-019-0472-z

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