The current demographical trend towards an increasingly elderly population combined with advances in end of life care calls for a deeper understanding and common terminology about the concept of futility and additional influences on the resuscitation decision-making process. Such improved understanding of medical futility and other contributing factors when making DNACPR orders would help to ensure that clinicians make appropriate and thoughtful decisions on whether to recommend resuscitation in a patient. When estimating medical futility a physician should consider the chance of survival over different time periods and balance this against the chance of adverse outcomes. This information can then be offered to the patient (or the relatives) so that the patient's views about what is acceptable for the survival chance, length and type of survival can be factored into the eventual decision. Given the lack of evidence in this area and the poor level of patient knowledge and the emotive nature of the topic, it is not surprising that clinicians find such discussions hard.