A GP surgery in Wales sent letters to patients with serious illnesses recommending them to sign ‘do not resuscitate’ forms in case they contracted coronavirus.
The letter from Llynfi surgery, in Maesteg near Port Talbot, asked their vulnerable patients to sign a “DNACPR” — do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation — so that ambulances would not be called out to their homes in case their condition deteriorated due to the Chinese virus.
Noting that people with neurological conditions or untreatable heart and lung conditions are at risk from the virus, Llynfi surgery told its patients that those suffering from such conditions are “unlikely to be offered hospital admission” if they become unwell with coronavirus and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.
The letter, whose contents were reported by the BBC, continued that their best option would be to “remain at home” and said the GP surgery would “like to complete a DNACPR for you”.
“We would, therefore, like to complete a DNACPR form for you which we can share… which will mean that in the event of a sudden deterioration in your condition because [of] Covid infection or disease progression the emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart or breathing will not be attempted,” the letter said.
Continuing, the letter claimed there were “several benefits” to completing the DNACPR form, including that denying life-saving intervention would free up emergency services, so that “scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit who have a greater chance”.
Another “benefit” was listed as: “The risk of transmitting virus to friends, family and emergency responders from CPR (even chest compression alone) is very high. By having a DNACPR form in place you protect your family and emergency responders from this additional risk.”
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said they had not issued the recommendations and it was not a standard procedure letter, with the surgery offering an apology “for any distress caused” through the health board.
Cwn Taf told The Guardian: “The surgery have been made aware that the letter has caused upset to some of the patients who received it. This was not their intent and they apologise for any distress caused. Staff at the surgery are speaking to those patients who received the letter to apologise directly and answer any concerns they may have.”
One of the letters was sent to WalesOnline, the LLynfi surgery patient writing to the news website: “It not only greatly upset me but my family and close friends. It was like having my death warrant being sent by the grim reaper. It made me feel worthless. I’ve lived with cancer for eight years and I want to live another couple of years. I’m not digging my grave yet.”
Another person said that a nurse practitioner visiting her father, who is receiving palliative care, had also asked him to sign a DNACPR form, according to The Guardian.