The review looked at care given to 585 acutely ill patients, many of them frail and elderly, and ruled that CPR had wrongly become the “default setting”. They said that assessing if resuscitation was necessary should instead become standard.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death looked at patients with an average age of 77, 122 of whose notes recorded that CPR was used. The NCEPOD said that in more than a third of these, doctors did not spot the early signs of cardiac arrest, and they could have been prevented early.
They also said that 52 of the patients were given CPR when they expressly requested that they do not receive such treatment.
In one case in particular, a patient with severe dementia was given CPR for well over 10 minutes, before a senior doctor put a stop to it. The report said that the resuscitation should not have taken place.
Bertie Leigh, chairman of NCEPOD, said: "We are at a crossroads. All of us need to recognise and accept the limits of what can be achieved in medicine to the benefit of the patient."
Dr Mark Temple, fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, said the report is not clear on why patients were given resuscitation, and in many case this could be down to poor handovers between medical staff.He questioned having correct “do not resuscitate” orders in the first place, and when a patient's status may change, a "snap decision" could be made by staff to proceed with CPR.