Agreement on disease-specific criteria for do-not-resuscitate orders in acute stroke. Members of the Canadian and Western New York Stroke Consortiums.
Alexandrov AV., Pullicino PM., Meslin EM., Norris JW.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is a mechanism of withholding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The lack of DNR guidelines specific for acute stroke may result in many stroke patients receiving unnecessary and futile resuscitation and ventilator-assisted breathing. METHODS: A prospective multicenter evaluation of disease-specific criteria for DNR orders in acute stroke was initiated using a modified Delphi process. The participants were the Canadian and Western New York Stroke Consortium members who are closely involved in caring for acute stroke patients and conducting clinical trials at the academic centers. Previously published provisional criteria were reviewed by the participants. Modifications were made to the criteria until statistically significant agreement (P < .05, z score, or 67% similar answers) was achieved. RESULTS: Disease-specific criteria for DNR orders in acute stroke were discussed by 26 physicians in three rounds of the opinion survey. An agreement was reached that a "no resuscitation" decision is appropriate when any two of the following three clinical criteria are present (the degree of agreement is given in parentheses): severe stroke (88%, P = .00007), life-threatening brain damage (73%, P < .01), and significant comorbidities (92%, P = .00003). The poor prognosis implied by these criteria should be discussed whenever possible among physician(s), the patient, and family members before the decision to withhold CPR is made. Eighty-one percent of the participants agreed that these disease-specific criteria are appropriate for clinical use (P = .0008). CONCLUSIONS: Disease-specific criteria for DNR orders were developed to supplement general DNR policies for patients with hemispheric brain infarction and intracerebral hemorrhage during the first 2 weeks of stroke. A significant agreement was reached by a panel of physicians that patients with acute stroke should not be resuscitated if these disease-specific criteria are met.