You may need time to think about your situation carefully. Talk to your healthcare team if you are unsure about anything. It may also help to talk to your family and friends.
You will usually make a decision about CPR with someone from your healthcare team, such as your GP, cancer doctor or specialist nurse. They will tell other members of the team that CPR has been discussed with you and what decision has been made. This information is confidential. It will only be shared with the team caring for you.
If you have told your healthcare team that you don't want to be given CPR, they will accept your decision. Very rarely, the healthcare team may decide that the person is not able to make the decision about CPR themselves. For example, this may happen if a person has a serious mental illness, or is confused or disorientated.
Some people don’t want to make their own decision about CPR. You don’t have to talk about CPR with anyone or decide about CPR. If you prefer, you can let your healthcare team decide for you.
Recording the decision
The decision about CPR will be written clearly in your medical and nursing notes. If the decision has been made not to give CPR, this is written as a 'do not attempt resuscitation' (DNAR) order, or as 'not for resuscitation' (NFCPR). In the medical notes, the doctor usually also writes a date when the decision will be reviewed. This means that the decision will be discussed again to check it is still correct and up to date.
If you are in hospital, the decision will be written in your medical and nursing notes but not in any notes stored beside your bed. If you leave the hospital ward, for example for an x-ray, your medical notes usually go with you. Many hospitals have a system using stickers on the outside of the medical notes to show if CPR should not be given. This helps any person looking after you find this information quickly. As well as the sticker system, your team aims to communicate clearly with staff in other departments. Anyone involved in your hospital care should know about a CPR decision.
If you go home, the community healthcare team looking after you should also be told about a CPR decision. This includes your GP, your local out-of-hours service and the ambulance service. It may also include the community palliative care team, the district nurses and any carers. GPs or community palliative care teams will usually discuss CPR with the people they are looking after. But if they haven’t and you want to discuss it, ask to talk to them. You will keep the written DNAR or NFCPR order in a safe place at home.
If your heart or breathing stops at home and an ambulance is called, the ambulance crew will always give CPR unless there’s a clearly written DNAR or NFCPR order.
If no decision has been made
If no decision has been made and your heart or breathing stops, your healthcare team will make the best decision they can at the time. They will decide whether to give CPR based on your medical situation. In some areas of healthcare, CPR will always be given if a decision has not been made.