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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Perioperative do-not-resuscitate orders: it is time to talk

Peter G Brindley

Author Affiliations

Division of Critical Care Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

BMC Anesthesiology 2013, 13:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-13-1

Published: 14 January 2013


A study by Burkle et al. in BMC Anesthesiology examined attitudes around perioperative do-not-resuscitate orders. Questionnaires were given to patients, as well as to anesthesiologists, internists and surgeons. The study has limitations and is open to interpretation. However, the findings are important. There appear to be attitudinal differences between patients and doctors, and between specialties. A small majority of patients are content to have a do-not-resuscitate order postponed during the perioperative period. A large majority expects open communication from doctors before proceeding. However, this article could also encourage a broader debate. This is about how to respect patient autonomy, while ensuring that resuscitation truly serves the patient’s best interests. This commentary outlines how more communication is needed at the bedside and in wider society.

Do not resuscitate; Perioperative; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation