A survey of key opinion leaders on ethical resuscitation practices in 31 European Countries
Spynos D. Mentzelopoulos, Leo Bossaert, Violetta Raffay, Helen Askitopoulou, Gavin D. Perkins, Robert Greif, Kirstie Haywood, Patrick Van de Voorde, Theodoros Xanthos
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.
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.
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 r2?=?0.42, P?<?0.001).
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.