The practice of using ‘slow codes’ to resuscitate extremely ill patients is undignified and can prolong suffering, argues a nursing academic.
Jacinta Kelly, nursing ethics lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, is calling for legal guidelines to prevent the use of slow codes, where resuscitation is too slow to be successful.
‘Slow codes are seen as a way of going through the motions, being kinder to desperately ill patients and avoiding potential legal action,’ she said. ‘But it is unfair on the patient and very difficult for staff who are keen to see patients end their life in a peaceful and dignified way.’
New guidance has said experienced nurses should be able to decide on resuscitation (NT News, 6 November, p10).
Journal of Clinical Nursing (2007) 16: 1989–1998