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What can I refuse in an Advance Decision?

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You can use an Advance Decision to refuse any treatment, including life-sustaining treatment. If you have refused life-sustaining treatment your healthcare team will still do everything they can to keep you comfortable and pain-free.

Here are some examples of the kinds of treatment you can refuse with an Advance Decision. This is not a complete list so please make sure you speak to your doctor about your likely treatment options.

Things you can refuse within an Advance Decision

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

CPR is an emergency treatment used to restart a person’s heart and breathing if they stop (called a cardiopulmonary arrest). The aim is to keep the person alive while a correctable cause of the cardiopulmonary arrest is identified and treated. CPR includes chest compressions (repeatedly pushing firmly on the chest), inflating the lungs (by inserting a tube into the windpipe or by placing a mask over the mouth and nose) and defibrillation (using electric shocks to restart and correct the heart’s rhythm).

Mechanical or artificial ventilation

This is a machine that helps you to breathe if you cannot do it on your own. Ventilators are also known as respirators or life-support machines.
Artificial nutrition and hydration

If you cannot eat and drink, your doctor might provide you with a liquid that contains the nutrition or hydration that you need. The liquid can be given though an intravenous drip, a tube through the nose or through a tube directly into the stomach (known as a PEG feed).

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a life-sustaining treatment in the event of a life threatening infection. Such infections (for example, pneumonia or a bladder infection) are more common when someone is very ill, for example the person has advanced cancer or has suffered a stroke. Antibiotics can be given through an intravenous drip or by mouth as a tablet or liquid.

Read our factsheet for helpful things to consider when making an Advance Decision.