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Resuscitation. 2016 Mar;100:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2015.12.010. Epub 2016 Jan 14.

A survey of key opinion leaders on ethical resuscitation practices in 31 European Countries.

Author information

1
University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece. Electronic address: sdmentzelopoulos@yahoo.com.
2
University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
3
Municipal Institute for Emergency Medicine Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia.
4
Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece; Ethics Committee of the European Society for Emergency Medicine (EuSEM), London, UK.
5
Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK; Critical Care Unit, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK.
6
University Hospital Bern and University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
7
Royal College of Nursing Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
8
University Hospital and University Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; Federal Department Health, Ghent, Belgium.
9
University of Athens, Medical School, Athens, Greece; Midwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Europe is a patchwork of 47 countries with legal, cultural, religious, and economic differences. A prior study suggested variation in ethical resuscitation/end-of-life practices across Europe. This study aimed to determine whether this variation has evolved, and whether the application of ethical practices is associated with emergency care organisation.

METHODS:

A questionnaire covering four domains of resuscitation ethics was developed based on consensus: (A) Approaches to end-of-life care and family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation; (B) Determinants of access to best resuscitation and post-resuscitation care; (C) Diagnosis of death and organ donation (D) Emergency care organisation. The questionnaire was sent to representatives of 32 countries. Responses to 4-choice or 2-choice questions pertained to local legislation and common practice. Positive responses were graded by 1 and negative responses by 0; grades were reconfirmed/corrected by respondents from 31/32 countries (97%). For each resuscitation/end-of-life practice a subcomponent score was calculated by grades' summation. Subcomponent scores' summation resulted in domain total scores.

RESULTS:

Data from 31 countries were analysed. Domains A, B, and D total scores exhibited substantial variation (respective total score ranges, 1-41, 0-19 and 9-32), suggesting variable interpretation and application of bioethical principles, and particularly of autonomy. Linear regression revealed a significant association between domain A and D total scores (adjusted r(2)=0.42, P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

According to key experts, ethical practices and emergency care still vary across Europe. There is need for harmonised legislation, and improved, education-based interpretation/application of bioethical principles. Better application of ethical practices may be associated with improved emergency care organisation.

KEYWORDS:

Bioethics; Cardiac arrest; Emergency care; End of life care; Resuscitation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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