“Do Not Resusitate,” a Debate or an Order?

In the future, I would like to be a part of the medical field, giving my undivided attention in helping those in need, by trying my best to save lives, both ethically and morally correct. With that being said if CPR saves lives, why would anyone want a DNR order? I find this topic to be very interesting because I know that there is a clear answer, but my instincts and need of wanting to help others, go against that answer. After reading, “An Unconscious Patient with a DNR Tattoo”, I’m not sure if I’m left more aware of the topic or more confused.

First I would like to start off explaining what a DNR is, in case you are not familiar with the term. According to Cleveland Clinic, “A “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order indicates that a person has decided not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempted in the event of his or her heart or breathing stops.” DNR orders are written by his or her physicians to tell all other health care providers not to perform CPR. Some patients wish not to be resuscitated because of reason like (a) “there is no medical benefit expected,” (b) “quality of life would suffer,” (c) “death is expected soon” (“Understanding Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders”, n.d.).

Although this is only a few of the many reasons why a person would not like to be resuscitated, ultimately, the patient has the legal right to accept or refuse medical treatments. What’s interesting about the article is that it brings up the question, what does one do with an unidentified unconscious patient that may or may not want DNR? In this case, the patient had a clear statement written across his chest that claims that he does not want resuscitation. However, similar to doctors at the hospital, if I was in their position, I would also “initially [decide] not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty.” I understand that the doctors were not trying to neglect the wishes of a patient, but rather evaluating all of the cards that were presented to them and then try to make a calculated decision, during that limited amount of time that they had, to save a life.

After reading Grace Song’s post, “Do We Resist The Order”, it was very helpful reading the blog post about a physician’s point of view of the order. I agree with the notion that as a doctor, life is something very valuable that should be held on to no matter what. They go through an extensive training process, that prepares them to save lives while a DNR order requires them to do the exact opposite. However, along with saving lives, doctors are also trained to respect consent and value patient wishes, which is why I respect and understand the ethics consultants advisor to honor the patient’s do not resuscitate tattoo.


Source: Understanding Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.brighamandwomensfaulkner.org/about-us/patient-visitor-information/advance-care-directives/dnr-orders.aspx

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