Should doctors be running futile codes? (Code Blue)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In the hospital, if you hear "Code Blue," that often means there's a patient who needs to be resuscitated. There are many instances when the resuscitation is "futile." You know that the patient's not going to get revived. However, you still feel obligated to go through the steps of running the code. I realize this is going to sound terrible, but I've even witnessed situations where futile codes became opportunities for medical students and interns to "practice" certain procedures (like a pericardiocentesis, a central line placement, intubation, etc.). Perhaps you've been in those situations as well. 

So why am I writing about futile codes? The other day, I was speaking with someone about advanced directives and "code status." Some people want to be a "full code," even if they're dying from a terminal disease. Others want the letters "DNR" for Do Not Resuscitate written clearly on the chart. One big problem is that many patients and family members don't discuss code status with their loved ones. As a result, family members are faced with very difficult situations when their loved one is being supported on a ventilator and when they're asked if they ought to "pull the plug." We live in a world where advances in medical technology have made it possible for medical professionals to sustain life, but is this always a good thing? 

Comments

One response to “Should doctors be running futile codes? (Code Blue)”
Post a Comment | Post Comments (Atom)

Greg Friese said...

DNR situations are very complex and even more stressful in the prehospital environment where an handful of EMTs and Paramedics are faced with making the decision to resuscitate and then performing the resuscitation in the patient's home. Often times with family gathered around.

Me and a few other paramedic bloggers wrote about "Going through the motions" - a theme similar to your post earlier this year. http://www.everydayemstips.com/?p=2315

April 7, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Post a Comment

About Dr. Joseph Kim

My Photo
Dr. Joseph Kim is the founder of MedicineandTechnology.com, an independent website owned and operated by Dr. Kim. He is also the President of MCM Education, a professional medical education and publishing company that develops continuing medical education (CME) activities in joint sponsorship with medical universities, hospitals, and medical associations.

Dr. Kim is a digital entrepreneur and technologist who has a passion for health information technology, mobile health, and social media. He frequently speaks at conferences about non-clinical careers for physicians, continuing medical education, mobile health technology, and social media in medicine. He is a regular contributor for the Physician Executive Journal, the official journal of the American College of Physician Executives.

Dr. Kim holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, and a master of public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health.
View my complete profile
Blog Widget by LinkWithin