Do-Not-Resuscitate Requests Difficult to Track in Canada

May 11, 2018 Last Updated: May 11, 2018

An investigation by CBC has found that there is no standardization in how different provincial governments deal with “do not resuscitate” requests. 

Those in Ontario wishing to avoid this can fill out a Do Not Resuscitate Confirmation (DNRC) form.

The form has different names in different provinces and it is not always clear how Canadians should display it.

According to CBC, it is also unclear how this information is kept track of by medical institutions or if first respondents even have easy access to it in some provinces.

These challenges make it difficult for first responders to know if a patient does not want to be resuscitated.

This situation makes the form seem useless in some scenarios, leaving Canadian Shahnaz Azarbehi anxious.

She is in good health but her mother-in-law was resuscitated and spent her final days bedridden.

Azarbehi wanted to avoid that fate and initiated the procedures to fill out a DNRC with her doctor.

“I’m just asking for dignity, respect, in my last final moments. I want to go in peace. Is that too much to ask?” she told CBC.

The process of filling out a DNRC form brought her more stress than peace. The form has a serial number and requires a doctor’s signature.

However, it turns out that the government of Ontario doesn’t keep track of these forms. Some provinces have those who filled out the form display it prominently or have patients wear a ‘do not resuscitate’ bracelet.

In the interview she gave CBC, Azarbehi also said that the government did not have a clear answer as to how she should display the information.

The representatives she spoke to gave her various different options including writing the confirmation number on her chest or displaying the form on her front door.

While Azarbehi felt those options were unacceptable, there are few ways for first responders to balance the urgency of resuscitation against the requirement to confirm a patient’s DNRC status.