Resuscitation Wishes

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Resuscitation is the act of attempting to revive a patient from apparent death. When you are in our care you have options available to you. We have provided some key information below, but as always, it is important to have conversations with your clinical team regarding you wishes.

What is a life-threatening situation?

A life-threatening situation is when a person(s):

  • condition deteriorates significantly
  • becomes unconscious or a respiratory or cardiac arrest will or has happened

The most serious situation is when breathing stops, or the heart beat becomes irregular or stops, as this leads to death.  This is also called ‘vital signs absent’. In hospital, an internal emergency team is called and responds with various methods to try to restore normal breathing and heartbeat. This is known as resuscitation. Patients/residents who require further emergency medical care will be transferred by ambulance to an acute care hospital (e.g. Victoria Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre).

How does this affect me?

Our team will try resuscitation when a patient’s heart or breathing stops.  Your physician can tell you more about these procedures for people with your disease/condition.  Some patients/residents prefer to allow natural death. Speak with your physician or care team to have your questions answered and discuss your preferences.  

What choices do I have?

In discussion, you will be asked: if you are found without vital signs, do you want us to:

  • Attempt resuscitation, or
  • Do not attempt resuscitation (provide comfort and allow natural death).

Unless you tell us otherwise, we will attempt resuscitation.

We will also ask about your wishes if your condition changes significantly. There are four options ranging from: “Focus on comfort measures” to “Advanced resuscitation level”.  Advanced resuscitation level means we will send you in an ambulance to an acute care hospital and they will try relevant procedures available. 

Your care provider will explain these choices in more detail.

The physician will:

  • explain what is possible for you in a life-threatening situation
  • listen to you and be sure you understand the issues and consequences
  • answer your questions
  • ask what your wishes are regarding resuscitation at the end of your life
  • document the decision on a form so all health care providers are aware.

When do I have to decide?

We ask patients/residents when they are admitted to the hospital about their wishes concerning life-threatening situations.  There is, of course, always time to ask for more information if you need it.

When you tell us your wishes, those wishes will help guide our care for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.

If an emergency occurs before you have made a decision, the hospital care team will follow its usual practice of attempting full resuscitation efforts.

Can I change my mind?

Absolutely. You can always change your mind.  If you do change your mind at any time, please speak with your physician or nurse to discuss your wishes.

Considering your wishes

You may find it helpful to talk to others about your care wishes in a medical emergency. Consider talking to:

  • your doctor
  • your spouse or partner
  • other family members or friends
  • someone in your faith group
  • your health care team at the hospital.

Sometimes people who are ill become unable to make decisions for themselves. Your Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) will then make decisions about your medical care. It’s important for your SDM to understand your wishes. If you have an advance care directive please bring it with you.

For information on Medical Assistance in Dying please speak with your care team.

Last updated: Thu, 2016-10-06 13:42