What is CPR?
CPR is an emergency intervention that tries to restart your heart and breathing if they stop. This can be a medical emergency but for many it is a natural process at the end of life. CPR is a separate and different intervention to the treatment that you are already receiving.
CPR may include:
Talking about CPR
Depending on the healthcare setting and your health a GP, hospital doctor, or senior nurse may wish to discuss your wishes around CPR. They will help you to reach a decision.
What if I don’t want to talk about CPR right now?
Who decides about CPR?
You and your healthcare team can discuss if you would be likely to benefit from CPR. They will want to know what you think. Your wishes are very important in making this decision. Unless there are exceptional clinical reasons they will discuss this with you and the DNACPR form will be kept with your health records.
If you want to, you can talk to the healthcare team looking after you about CPR. Together you can talk about:
If you and the team decide that you should not have CPR then the decision will be documented, in your notes on a form called ‘Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ (a DNACPR form).
Will CPR work for me?
CPR does not always work and will depend on:
Does everyone get back to normal after CPR?
Sadly most people do not survive after a cardiac arrest. Those with complex medical problems are much less likely to make a full recovery. It is important that you know that:
Is CPR tried on everyone whose heart and breathing stop?
If you are seriously ill and near the end of your life, there may be no benefit in trying to resuscitate you as the heart and breathing will stop as a natural part of dying. In these cases, it is more important to keep you pain-free, comfortable and supported. CPR may offer false hope and do more harm than good by not allowing you to die a natural death.
Who makes the decisions if I can’t?
If you are unable to understand the information you are given about CPR and cannot make the decision for yourself someone else may be able to decide for you.
For patients unable to make a decision because of illness or a learning disability a person (a legal proxy) can be appointed to make a decision on your behalf to help decide for you. A legal proxy can be:
The doctor will always talk through the decision with the legal proxy if this is possible.
What should I do if I know that I don’t want CPR?
What if I want CPR, but my doctor says it won’t work?
When you discuss CPR your doctor may say that CPR would not work for you.
When a decision not to try CPR has been made?
If you have decided you do not wish CPR to be tried, or if your doctor is sure CPR will not work, this will be written on a form called ‘Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ (a DNACPR form). This will be kept with your health records.
This decision is about CPR only. You will get any other treatment that you need, to keep you as well and comfortable as possible.
Your healthcare team will continue to give you the best care and treatment according to your individual needs.
What if I am at home?
Many patients who are dying want chose to die at home. Even if people close to you know that you do not wish CPR to be tried, they may feel the need to call an ambulance if they become worried about you.
If the ambulance crew or health professionals are informed you have a DNACPR form at home, they must respect your wishes. They will make you as comfortable as possible and arrange further care. They will not try CPR.
What happens if I am discharged from hospital?
To help ensure that other heath professionals know your wishes:
If my situation changes or I change my mind?
If your health situation changes your healthcare team will review the decision about CPR. You can also request a review if you change your mind about your decision. Feel free to discuss your feelings with the doctors or nurses looking after you.
Can I see what’s written about CPR?
You have a legal right to see and have copies of your records
You can see what’s written about CPR in your health record. Your healthcare team will have noted what you have said about CPR, and will record any decisions made along with you, in your health records. Your healthcare team should explain any words you don’t understand.
Who else can I talk to about this?
How can I find out more?
For more information about anything in this leaflet, please contact:
For more information about advocacy and to find a local advocacy group, contact: ……………………
For more information about legal proxies contact:
The Office of the Public Guardian (England and Wales)
Phone: 0300 456 0300
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about making a complaint, you can get a copy of the leaflet Putting Things Right: Raising a Concern about the NHS from:
This information was developed by the All Wales DNACPR Group and produced after consultation with relevant stakeholders. It is available on all NHS Health Board websites.
You can ask someone in your healthcare team for a copy.