News

Nurses best-placed to talk to families about DNAR orders, congress hears

Nurses are best-placed to talk to families on do not attempt resuscitation orders even though they are mainly a medical decision, RCN congress hears in a debate on communicating fully with vulnerable groups

Nurses are best-placed to talk to families on do not attempt resuscitation orders even though they are mainly a medical decision, RCN congress hears in a debate on communicating fully with vulnerable groups


Ged Swinton said he queried a consultant about issuing a DNAR order. 
Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses are best-placed to communicate with families and the medical team on do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) orders, even though they are mainly a medical decision, RCN congress heard.

Justin Walford, a member of the emergency care association, said it was vital to have a conversation on the issue at an early stage.

‘Unless you talk to your patient about the “what ifs” then how can you know what they want?’ he said at the annual congress in Liverpool.

Patient’s best interests

Another speaker, Ged Swinton of Southampton and the Isle of Wight branch, said as a resuscitation officer he had been asked to see a 94 year old patient who staff said was dying.


Joanne Day.
Picture: John Houlihan

But when he phoned the consultant and asked if he had considered a DNAR order the response was: ‘Yes, I have thought about that but I don’t want the family to sue me.’

Mr Swinton told congress: ‘Is that acting in the patient’s best interest? No, I do not believe it is.’

Issue referred to council

Hamish Kemp of the learning disability forum said it was important to have systems in place to avoid a scenario ‘where somebody decides to act as God over someone else’s life’.

Joanne Day, a nonvoting member, said: ‘If we can’t speak to our patients and their families we should not be in this career.’

The debate was on a motion calling on RCN council to review possible failures of healthcare staff to communicate fully with vulnerable groups on the issue of DNAR orders.

But after some members questioned the wording of the motion, congress chair BJ Waltho referred the issue to council without a vote.


Read the latest from RCN congress 2019 here

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs