Documentation of Do-Not-Attempt-Cardiopulmonary-Resuscitation orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic

29 July 2021
D Connellan et al

Introduction: the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the decision-making process regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) into focus. The aim of this study is to compare rates of Do-Not-Attempt-CPR (DNACPR) documentation in older hospitalised patients before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: this was a retrospective repeated cross-sectional study. Data including co-morbidities and resuscitation status was collected on 300 patients with COVID-19 hospitalised from 1 March to 31 May 2020. DNACPR documentation rates in patients aged ≥65 years with a diagnosis of COVID-19 were compared to those without COVID-19 admitted during the same period and were also compared to the documentation rates pre-COVID-19 pandemic (1 March–31 May 2019).

Results: of 300 COVID-19-positive patients, 28% had a DNACPR order documented during their admission. Of 131 older (≥65 years) patients with COVID-19, 60.3% had a DNACPR order compared to 25.4% of 130 older patients without COVID-19 (P < 0.0001). During a comparable time period pre-pandemic, 15.4% of 130 older patients had a DNACPR order in place (P < 0.0001). Almost fifty percent of DNACPR orders were recorded within 24 h of a positive swab result for SARS-CoV-2. Of older COVID-19-positive patients, 39.2% were referred to palliative care services and 70.2% survived.

Conclusion: the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more widespread and earlier decision-making regarding resuscitation status. Although case fatality rates were higher for older hospitalised patients with COVID-19, many older patients survived the illness. Advance care planning should be prioritised in all patients and should remain as part of good clinical practice despite the pandemic.

End of life care Age and Ageing Journal Research