Legal - Emergency medical treatment - Cast Study

Case Studies: Emergency Medical Treatment


Henry is an 80 year old resident of an aged care home. He is vision impaired and has Type 2 diabetes. He has limited mobility and requires care with some activities of daily living.

One evening he starts experiencing chest pain, and presses his call button for assistance. The personal care assistant who attends immediately calls the nurse to assess Henry. The nurse performs an assessment, and given he has no history of angina or cardiac issues calls 000, asking for an ambulance to attend the home urgently.

The ambulance arrives and paramedics examine Henry. The nurse tells them Henry does not have an Advance Care Directive, and his only relative, his son John, is away overseas. Henry’s chest pain becomes stronger and he suddenly loses consciousness and goes into full cardiac arrest.

As Henry is unconscious he cannot provide consent to treatment. He will die unless CPR is given immediately. Given the urgent need for treatment and that it is not possible to obtain consent from Henry or John (and Henry has not previously refused the treatment) it is lawful for the paramedics to commence CPR.

Henry is able to be resuscitated and is taken to the local hospital emergency department for further investigation and treatment.

Page updated 28 August 2018