When doctors don’t try too hard at CPR

  • July 8, 2014
When doctors don’t try too hard at CPR

Alessandra Colaianni has scooped the prestigious Rausing Prize for her dissertation on the history of the 'slow code in cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the US.

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has scooped the prestigious Rausing Prize in the History and Philosophy of Science for her MPhil dissertation on the history of the 'slow code' in cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the US.

Alessandra Colaianni [2013] won the Prize which is awarded by the examiners of the MPhil in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Her thesis, "Ritualistic comforting hand" or "crass dissimulation"?: The "slow code" in historical and sociological perspective, looked at the history of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), focusing particularly on the expansion of CPR in US hospitals from 1960 to the present day, the invention of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders by the professional bioethics and patients' rights movements.

She focused on the historical origins of what is termed a "slow code": when medical practitioners perform intentionally ineffective CPR on patients who are dying from terminal illnesses because they believe CPR to be both ineffective and potentially harmful to these patients.

Alessandra, who is one of two winners who both receive £100, says: "There is very little in the way of existing literature on this subject, because it is both illegal and taboo, so I supplemented my historical research with sociological interviews with 14 physicians, nurses, and physicians-in-training at a US hospital."

Picture credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net and jscreationzs

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