Doctors taken aback by unconscious patient's 'do not resuscitate' tattoo

A man admitted to a Florida hospital had an unusual do not resuscitate order a new study shows

A man admitted to a Florida hospital had an unusual do not resuscitate order a new study shows

Ensuring that your last wishes are carried out after death requires a certain amount of faith in your loved ones, especially if you don't have a will.

With no way of knowing if the tattoo was what the patient wanted, they chose to resuscitate the man.

To make matters worse, the medical staff were unable to contact next of kin as the patient was admitted without identification and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

"We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty", four University of Miami doctors wrote in NEJM.

Ethics consultants soon advised the doctors that the tattoo, which was signed with the patient's name and scrawled across his chest, likely represented his wishes and should be honored.

While the doctors waited for a decision on the ethics of the case, the patient was given a non-invasive oxygen mask, antibiotics, fluids, and medication to raise his blood pressure.

"Therefore, an ethics consultation was requested".

"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 (i.e. adherence to medical tradition and norms), and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centred care and respect for patients' best interests".

The tattooed man, who has since died, added to the discussion about end-of-life care, which can sometimes present a hard situation for health care providers to navigate due to confusion about a patient's desires.

After, the social workers were able to track down a copy of the patient's out-of-hospital DNR, which did, in fact, state he did not want to be resuscitated.

While it may seem clear that someone who would go as far as tattooing "Do Not Resuscitate" on their chests would be serious about their wishes, that isn't always the case.

A patient tattooed his end-of-life wishes to his chest, with his signature underneath. Instead, it was the result of a lost bet during a drunken night out.

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