3 Nov 2010

Society-wide debate on end-of-life care urged

4:10 pm on 3 November 2010

The MidCentral District Health Board says two cases of patients given non-resuscitation orders without consent show there is a society-wide need for people to think carefully about end-of-life care.

Two cases of non-resuscitation orders given in error have been reported at Palmerston North Hospital, both of which are the subjects of complaints.

MidCentral Health's chief medical officer, Ken Clark, says that the incidents do not highlight a lack of training, and that the health professionals involved acted in good faith.

He says, however, that non-resuscitation order policies are under consultation, and that there is a need for people to think carefully about how they deal with health providers about the medical care they receive at the end of their lives.

"This is a matter for the culture of the hospital and the hospital staff," he says, "but [also] very much a matter in terms of society engaging with health professionals on matters of end-of-life care: how we can ensure that good decisions are made and people die with dignity."