As your health deteriorates the risk of your heart or breathing suddenly stopping (cardiac or respiratory arrest) increases. If this happens in the presence of health care professionals (doctors, nurses, ambulance crew, paramedics), they will usually attempt to resuscitate you by giving an electric shock to the heart and starting artificial breathing (mouth to mouth or via a tube into the lungs). This is not always successful and is often an undignified way to die. You may choose not to have any attempt at resuscitation if your heart or breathing stops. If this is your choice, you must inform the health care professionals looking after you and they will complete a special form – a DNAR order.

Often the decision not to attempt resuscitation in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest is made by the doctors involved in your care. This decision is made when it is clear that any attempt would be futile and would lead to an undignified death. The decision will be discussed with you or your family if you are too poorly to understand what is happening to you. A DNAR order should not be completed without your knowledge or your family’s/next of kin’s if you lack capacity and the decision must be reviewed regularly.

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