‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Tattoo Baffles Florida Docs (PHOTO)

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A medical emergency became a bewildering moral dilemma in a Florida hospital when doctors were uncertain whether an unconscious patient’s ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ tattoo was a legitimate order.

Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the case details the difficult life-ending decisions and investigations into a patient’s background required of medical professionals.

The 70-year-old male patient, with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, was brought into the emergency room unconscious by paramedics. The man had an elevated blood alcohol level and, when doctors assessed him, a curious tattoo was found on his chest, stating: ‘Do Not Resuscitate.’ It was accompanied by what appeared to be tattooed signature.

According to Florida’s Department of Health, do not resuscitate, or DNR orders, are enforced by specific requirements which state that they must be written on yellow paper. Health care professionals are not obligated to honor such a request unless it meets this requirement.

With no identification or next of kin information, the emergency team had to decide whether this man’s tattoo was symbolic of an actual wish to prevent a life-saving intervention.

“We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty,” the medical article reads. “This decision left us conflicted owing to the patient’s extraordinary effort to make his presumed advance directive known.”

As a result, authorities from an ethics department were consulted as the man received antibiotics and intravenous fluid. After reviewing the patient’s case, however, it was suggested that doctors could reasonably infer the tattoo expressed an “authentic preference.”

The health of the unnamed man subsequently deteriorated and he died without receiving artificial ventilation.

Further investigation into the man’s background uncovered an out-of-hospital DNR order. According to the journal account, the tattoo created “more confusion than clarity.”

“We were relieved to find his written DNR request, especially because a review of the literature identified a case report of a person whose DNR tattoo did not reflect his current wishes,” the report adds.

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  • idontknow

    FYI
    My tattoo that says “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” doesn’t mean you should actually start killing ’em all…

    • Steve Angell

      Huge difference.

      This was crystal clear and it is not that uncommon. It absolutely should be honored. After all Revoked could have been tattooed as well. A line through the signature.

    • AmericaAwakens

      🙂 I agree!

      • idontknow

        Howdy AA! 🙂

    • Robert_

      Just to be clear, kill some, but not all??

  • Eventually it will become illegal to refuse medical treatment even with all of the legal bells and whistles because we no longer have self-ownership.

  • Simon says

    following the wallet biopsy they found out they wouldn’t be paid, which rendered services useless either way… so they called it.

    • Airb0rne4325

      Bullshit

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  • Airb0rne4325

    Wife and I, both medical professionals with well over 30 years btwn us, just argued this.
    I say uphold the DNR. The man went through the time, effort and pains to make his wishes known.
    She argues that he may have done that when he was a much younger man and his position may have changed now.
    I argued that such a man would only have to have a simple line through NOT and it would change the DNR.

    I would have not coded the man and I would have let his pass.

  • Workstillbroke

    Official documents only please. People tattoo all kinds of crazy stuff as a joke all the time. I knew a guy that tattooed “GANG SHIT” on his arm just because when he had been talked to after coming out of a bar, he was asked if he had any gang tattoos so he thought it was funny to say he had some “GANG SHIT”

    • You can call me Al

      Whilst I agree with you in general, may I put it in some perspective in this instance -“The 70-year-old male patient, with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, was brought into the emergency room unconscious by paramedics.” …..

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