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February 24, 1997

New York's DNR Law Does Not Require Futile Resuscitation-Reply

Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(4):468. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440250127024

I thank DeBuono for her remarks. Although I believe her comments to be mistaken, I appreciate her interest.

The New York State Public Health Law concerning DNR (Section 29B) begins

... it is appropriate for an attending physician, in certain circumstances, to issue an order not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation of a patient where appropriate consent has been obtained.1

It continues, "Presumption in favor of resuscitation." (Note: not presumption of consent to resuscitation.)

The law then goes on to say that there can be no DNR order based on futility without permission of the patient or his or her surrogate, except when the patient has no capacity to decide and there is no surrogate.1 Thus, the law would have virtually every dying patient receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation, no matter how hopeless the effort, unless there is permission to forgo the procedure. Physicians writing to complain to the New York State

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