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December 9, 1996

Must Consent Always Be Obtained for a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Moses Cone Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill (Dr Layson), and Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Dr McConnell).

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(22):2617-2620. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440210149015

Using cardiopulmonary resuscitation for cardiac or respiratory arrest unless there is an explicit do-not-resuscitate order is a policy adopted by all hospitals. Such a policy usually requires the patient's (or surrogate's) consent for a do-not-resuscitate order to be instituted. This article, however, presents the argument that consent need not always be obtained. In the case discussed, the well-being of the patient, other patients, and the health care providers all support a unilateral decision by the physician not to attempt resuscitation at the time of death. The medical community and society need to acknowledge that such cases exist and to develop policies that respect not only the interests of patients but also those of health care providers and society. Arch Intern Med.


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