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Understanding No CPR Orders

In British Columbia, patients who are nearing the natural end of their lives or suffer from a life-limiting or life threatening illness have the right to create a No Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (No CPR) form.

The main purpose of the form is to inform first responders and health care providers that in the event of sudden cardiac or pulmonary failure, the patient does not wish to receive CPR or any other form of emergency medical care.

What Is A No CPR Order?

Understanding the scope of a No CPR order is critical. The order represents a person’s informed consent to refuse certain treatments given that in a medical crisis, they may not be able to speak for themselves. A No CPR form is signed by a physician and gives emergency care professionals the authorization not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation to a patient. The form is a joint publication between the Ministry of Health, the British Columbia Medical Association, and B.C. Ambulance Service, making it a recognized way for an individual to ensure that their final wishes are respected.

If a person has signed a No CPR form, it is important that it be kept in an easily accessible place and that family and friends know where to find it. The individual’s physician, next of kin, and any health care providers or facilities that they are associated with must have a copy as well.

As per the BC Ambulance Service’s recommendation, individuals who have signed a No CPR order should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace to ensure that first responders are made aware of the patient’s preference. The province provides free medical bracelets and necklaces to British Columbians who have No CPR orders, provided that they have been signed by a physician.

Are No-CPR Orders Mandatory?

No person can be made to sign a No CPR order to gain admission into a licensed care facility such as a long-term care home. That being said, hospices are permitted to require that a No CPR form be signed before a resident moves in.

If an individual should decide that they no longer wish to have a No CPR order, they may do so but must ensure that they dispose of the form, remove any medical alert jewelry, and inform all relevant parties to ensure that there is no confusion.

Signing a No CPR order is a personal decision that should be taken seriously. Speaking to an experienced wills and estates lawyer can help provide clarity to help ensure peace of mind.

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