By Wesley J. Smith
This is pretty bad when it is considered a landmark victory!
A court in the UK has ruled that competent patients have the right to be “told” when they are going to be denied CPR. From the Cambridge News story:
The Court of Appeal has ruled the human rights of a terminally-ill patient were violated when a “do not resuscitate” notice was placed on her records at a Cambridge hospital without her being consulted.
Care home manager Janet Tracey was 63 when she died following a transfer to Addenbrooke’s after breaking her neck in a car crash in 2011 – two weeks after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Lawyers acting for her family have described it as a “landmark judgment” clarifying that NHS trusts have a legal duty to tell patients with mental capacity that a Do Not Attempt Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) order has been placed on their medical records – and to involve them in the decision-making process.
Hello! “Told” is only half the job. Patients should normally have the right to consent to no resuscitation before it is put on a chart.
Studies have shown that many doctors have different values when it comes to such matters than their patients. But so what? Their views should not trump the patient’s except in very extreme cases where CPR would be physiologically ineffective and/or so onerous as to be torture with no prospect of life-extension.
And don’t think if current trends continue that the decision to save money won’t be factored into the equation under a ”doctor decides” system, as physicians are increasingly being told their true master is “society.”
And before CPR can be denied in a “futile care” imposition, the patient should have rights to object, with the strong legal presumption that the patient’s view prevails.
Doctors have greater power in the UK to make the final call than here in the USA. But bioethicists and medical technocrats are striving mightily to push us in that direction.
There is such a thing as putting oneself under a doctor’s care. But that should not make him or her the determiner of your life or death.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.