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Conflicting perspectives compromising discussions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation.Healthcare professionals, patients and their relatives are expected to discuss resuscitation together. This study aims to identify the differences in the knowledge base and understanding of these parties. Questionnaires examining knowledge and opinion on resuscitation matters were completed during interviews of randomly selected doctors, nurses and the general public. 70% doctors, 24% nurses and 0% of a public group correctly estimated survival to discharge following in-hospital resuscitation attempts. Deficiencies were identified in doctor and nurse knowledge of ethics governing resuscitation decisions. Public opinion often conflicts with ethical guidelines. Public understanding of the nature of cardiopulmonary arrests and resuscitation attempts; and of the implications of a 'Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR)' order is poor. Television medical dramas are the primary source of resuscitation knowledge. Deficiencies in healthcare professionals' knowledge of resuscitation ethics and outcomes may compromise resuscitation decisions. Educational initiatives to address deficiencies are necessary. Parties involved in discussion on resuscitation do not share the same knowledge base reducing the likelihood of meaningful discussion. Public misapprehensions surrounding resuscitation must be identified and corrected during discussion.