Consent: Does “Yes” Really Mean “Yes”?

Upon reading “An Unconscious Patient with a DNR Tattoo” from the New England Journal of Medicine, I was very perplexed by their decision to not resuscitate the patient based on the tattoo. We have learned in Home that one’s presence lives on long after they have passed for multiple reasons. This man who had the tattoo probably had a family or friends who knew him and would’ve rather had him alive. He probably had made connections to people throughout his life that left a lasting impression; and this impression may continue to live long past his death. Because of this, those people may have been upset that the hospital chose not to resuscitate him based on a tattoo.

While the tattoo clearly was trying to make a statement and later proved to be his legal wish, it was still interesting that the hospital made a call like that without consent from the patient in the form of a legal document. And with that in mind, we are brought right back to the start of the main topic in this class.


Where does consent start and end? What classifies as consent? In my opinion, the tattoo was a form of written consent because his signature was provided underneath the statement. However, others may feel that a verbal “yes” or “no” be required to confirm or deny consent. Although the idea of consent is relevant in medicine (as we have studied for the entire semester), I think it’s extremely prominent in sexual assault. The lines often get crossed and trials never have a standard ruling because people have different opinions about consent and people’s expression of boundaries. While the culture is changing and society is now being taught that only a sober “yes” qualifies as consent in sexual relations; what is the standard for the world of medicine? Some may agree to something because they feel overpowered by the one asking for consent, or some may not explicitly say “yes” or “no” and they may not get an outcome that they desired.


I feel that a uniform consent in the world of medicine usually involves a form and a signature, but how many cases are there that a patient signs something just because the doctor handed them the form and told them “sign here”?

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