Show respect, don’t reanimate
If you’re over 70 and you don’t want to be resuscitated after a heart attack, the government should respect that wish.
The Stichting Hartpatiënten Nederland (Dutch Heart Patients Foundation), a patients’ pressure group says it doesn’t understand all the political commotion surrounding the resuscitation policy of the St Pieters & Bloklands care home in the town of Amersfoort.
You would think, it says, from the fuss that the home has been letting dozens of elderly people drop dead at random.
The Christian Democrats and other political parties have been demanding that the cabinet intervene at the care home, which recently adopted a policy of not reanimating elderly people after a heart attack unless they had specifically asked to
The home sent its residents a letter pointing out that people over 70 run serious risks of a significantly reduced quality of life if they are reanimated after cardiac arrest. It asked them to indicate in writing whether they wished to be reanimated or not in such a case.
Following the announcement of an investigation by the Health Care Inspectorate, the home has suspended its new protocol: for the time being it will resuscitate all cardiac arrest victims, regardless of age.
Clearly stated wishes
The Heart Patients Foundation points out that the Amersfoort home is not the only care home or nursing home with a policy of this kind. “We support the right of people to take their own decisions. We therefore believe the government must respect the clearly stated wishes of elderly people not to be reanimated after cardiac arrest.” it states.
The foundation suggests that elderly people who have discussed the issue with a doctor and signed a form indicating their wish not to be reanimated should be issued with a tag or wristband or some other form of identifying device. Standard procedure would then be to resuscitate everyone, except those wearing a “do not reanimate” indicator.
25 August 2008
By Iain Macintyre
[Copyright Radio Netherlands]