Doctors at the University of Miami hospital were presented with a unique ethical quagmire when paramedics brought in an unconscious man with a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest. The patient had a track record of serious health issues and a high blood alcohol level. He had no identification and no immediate family to contact.
When doctors discovered the tattoo, they were leaning towards simply ignoring it and treating him as they would any other ER patient. The doctors thought that a DNR order is a very serious directive and they did not want to take the risk of letting him pass on without assurances the tattoo was actually a genuine medical directive.
An ethics consultant at the hospital recommended complying with the tattoo. They reasoned that it was most reasonable to interpret the tattoo as an expression of an authentic preference, according to an article published on CNN.com.
The ethics consultant’s support for adhering to the DNR tattoo was buttressed by the social work department at the hospital after it located a copy of the patient’s “out-of-hospital” do not resuscitate order. Once the legally valid document was retrieved, doctors respected the wishes of the patient and he passed on.
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End-of-Life Medical Care Must Be Addressed
Many patients find it difficult to communicate their end-of-life wishes to family members and doctors at critical points of time, especially if you are confronted with a sudden or unexpected ailment. There are legal documents designed to help address this important issue. For example, your estate planning attorney can draft an advance directive that tells your doctor and loved ones what kind of medical care you desire if you are incapacitated or deemed unable to make such decisions. You can also draft a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order to be included with your advance directive. A DNR is a request not to have CPR administered if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. Your doctor should place the DNR order in your medical chart and doctors and hospitals in most states accept DNR orders.
Navigating Missouri DNR Laws
In Missouri, DNR orders are recognized and complied with in hospitals across the state. In addition, Missouri authorizes the use of a DNR order outside of the hospital. Before 2007, Missouri law did not provide this type of medical authorization, but the lack of a clear directive created confusion within the medical community. As a result, the Missouri legislature passed the Outside the Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Act. This law states that a competent Missourian who is older than the age of 18 may give informed consent to an OHDNR.
Furthermore, this state law authorizes a representative who is acting under your durable power of attorney to make the same decisions regarding your preference for a DNR order to be recognized and followed.
Contact the Experienced St. Charles Advance Medical Directive Attorneys at Polaris Law Group Today
If you have questions about drafting an Advance Medical Directive, contact the attorneys at Polaris Law Group today. We are different from most traditional law firms. Many big firms treat you like a number. Not at Polaris. We take the time to counsel our clients to ensure their plan meets their own personal, family, and financial situation. To learn more, contact our office today to schedule a meeting.