Background: Doctors are justified withholding a treatment, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), if it is unlikely to benefit a patient. The success rates for CPR in patients with cancer is <1%. Guidelines produced in 2001 recommended that CPR should be discussed with patients, even when it is unlikely to be successful. Therefore, should oncologists always discuss resuscitation, even when it is likely to be futile?
Method: Sixty oncology in-patients and 32 of their relatives were asked their views on CPR, and their views were compared with the oncologist involved in their care.
Results: Some 58% of patients wanted to be resuscitated. There was a moderate-strong correlation between patients and their next of kin and the desire for resuscitation. There was also a positive correlation between the doctor's views on suitability for resuscitation, patient's prognostic score, and World Health Organisation (WHO) performance score.
Conclusion: Most patients wanted to be resuscitated despite being given the likely poor survival rates from CPR. They also wanted to be involved in the decision-making process, and wanted their next of kin involved, even when, medically, the procedure was unlikely to be successful. The findings that patient and next of kin views correlated well shows that relatives' views are a good representation of patient views. In contrast, consultant's decisions were strongly correlated with the patient's performance status and clinical state. No patients were upset by the study, although nine patients declined to participate.