Do not resuscitate and its abbreviated form, DNR, are standard parlance for the physician's order to omit cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) of a hospitalized patient when and if cardiac or respiratory arrest occurs. But after three years of experience with what we believed to be a model hospital policy for orders not to resuscitate,1 our hospital's Ethics Committee and Clinical Executive Board have concluded that "do not resuscitate" is the wrong language for communicating the decision to forego CPR.
Those of us who fought to get orders not to resuscitate out of the closet and into the chart were well aware that "do not resuscitate" might be misunderstood to mean "do not treat" or "do not treat vigorously." For this reason, model hospital policies for orders not to resuscitate emphasize that no other diagnostic or therapeutic interventions are affected by the order.2 In-house educational programs directed to medical and
Donnelly WJ. DNR: The Case for Early Retirement. Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(1):37–38. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370010041010
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