Tags: do not resuscitate tattoo

'Do Not Resuscitate' Tattoo Stops Doctors in Their Tracks

'Do Not Resuscitate' Tattoo Stops Doctors in Their Tracks

Medical staff took a picture of the man's "do not resuscitate" tattoo. (University of Miami)

By    |   Friday, 01 December 2017 05:49 PM

Doctors in Miami, Florida, faced an ethical dilemma when a patient with a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo on his chest came into their emergency room.

The 70-year-old man was unconscious and his condition was deteriorating when he came into Jackson Memorial Hospital when doctors noticed the tattoo on his chest.

The word “not” was underlined and the tattoo had a signature below the words, seeming to indicate his wishes about life-saving measures being used to bring him back, The Washington Post reported.

The medical team had questions about whether the tattoo was legally sound and should be honored as the patient’s directive. In the case, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors gave the man fluids, antibiotics for an infection, and blood pressure medication. They used a breathing mask but didn’t hook him up to a machine to breathe for him.

The staff knew of one other case where a man had a DNR tattoo, but actually did want life-saving measures. He said he got the tattoo after losing a bet, The Washington Post reported.

Furthermore, Florida requirements say that "do not resuscitate" orders need to be printed on yellow paper and signed by a physician.

Finally, the doctors called an ethics consultant for advice. The consultant suggested honoring the tattoo as the most “reasonable” expression of his preference. Eventually, social workers did find official paperwork for the man’s DNR order, and the man, who had pulmonary disease, died the next day.

New York University School of Medicine professor of bioethics Arthur Kaplan said, “The safer course is to do something,” adding that a DNR tattoo alone is not sufficient to protect doctors against possible legal action in the event no actual DNR order exists.

If family members call 911, the patient will likely be resuscitated, Kaplan said, The Washington Post reported.

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Doctors in Miami, Florida, faced an ethical dilemma when an unconscious, 70-year-old patient with a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo on his chest came into the Jackson Memorial Hospital emergency room.
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2017-49-01
Friday, 01 December 2017 05:49 PM
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