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Doctors Have No Clue What To Do When Patient With 'Do Not Resuscitate' Tattoo Arrives

The idea of an order to ‘do not resuscitate’ - also known as a DNR - is to avoid a situation in which the wishes of the affected party are dismissed. There are some folks that have no desire to kept alive with the assistance of machines as a result of a health emergency, and the order is meant to provide clear instructions to the doctors so that their loved ones don’t have to make some uncomfortable choices.

As with most legal documents, it’s not going to automatically quell the angst of those that don’t agree with the order, but it should serve as the final word in matters such as those.

Doctors at a Florida hospital were recently faced with such an order in unconventional fashion, and that led to a serious moral and ethical dilemma for the medical professionals involved. As Inside Edition shares, an unidentified 70-year-old man was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital after he was found unconscious.

Reports indicate that he lived in a nursing home, but he was found drunk and passed out on the street.

He would arrive at the hospital without any family or identification, and doctors would quickly do what they could to save his life. Along the way, they would discover that he had a rather curious tattoo across his chest.

“Do not resuscitate,” the tattoo read.

Doctors were faced with a split-second choice, and they really had no idea what they should do. Should they honor the tattoo? What if it was just meant as some kind of gag?

As the questions swirled about, the doctors decided to neglect it for the time being. The man was provided with intravenous fluid resuscitation and vasopressors, and doctors would place him on antibiotics.

Afterwards, doctors would speak with the hospital’s ethics consultants to present the conundrum they faced. The whole fascinating case was discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it was noted that the doctors were initially “invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty.”

Based on the information that the doctors had on hand, that seems to be the wisest choice. However, the doctors would think twice about their decision after further discussion.

“After reviewing the patient’s case, the ethics consultants advised us to honor the patient’s do not resuscitate (DNR) tattoo,” the report continued. “They suggested that it was most reasonable to infer that the tattoo expressed an authentic preference, that what might be seen as caution could also be seen as standing on ceremony, and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centered care and respect for patients’ best interests.”

The patient was still in the hospital at that point, and the doctors would go ahead and write up a DNR request on his behalf. The hospital’s social work department would coordinate with the Florida Department of Health from there, and they were able to obtain his “out-of-hospital” DNR order. The man passed away later that evening.

Source: Inside Edition
Photos: Miami Today, U.S. Army/Robert Whetstone Generic Photo, YouTube, Yuriy Klochan/123RF Stock Photo, Pixabay

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