Do-not-attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) notices and the law

Martin Curtice, Caroline Winkle, Wasan Bajallan

  • Abstract

    The legal basis and principles for the application and use of do-not-attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) orders has been laid out in the Court of Appeal judgement in Tracey, R v Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & Ors [2014a]. This case involved a 63-year-old woman, Mrs Tracey, who had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer just before being seriously injured in a road-traffic accident. There was disagreement between the treating medical team and Mrs Tracey's family as to the imposition of a DNACPR order in her notes. This article analyses the Court of Appeal judgement in this case in relation to applying the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to DNACPR decisions, specifically issues around Article 8 of the ECHR. In so doing, it makes clear the legal basis for DNACPR decisions and the important elements for clinicians to consider before placing DNACPR notices in patients’ notes. This case was pivotal in terms of the relevant professional bodies producing new guidance on DNACPR decisions.

  • Contributors

    Martin Curtice, Caroline Winkle, Wasan Bajallan


    Correct at article publish date

    1 Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, UK
    2 Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, UK
    3 Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, UK

    Author notes

    Correspondence to Dr Martin Curtice,

    Original publishing information

    • Publisher: St Christopher's Hospice
    • Publish date: 01/09/2015
    • ePub Date: 28/09/2015
    • Volume: 5
    • Issue: 1

    Permissions: Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

  • Downloads

Full article access

To download and read the full article you need to log in

Not yet registered? Registration is free and easy.

Register online now

St Christopher's education events


Providing good end of life care to people with dementia

Find out more