Ethical dilemma occurs with DNR tattoo
The Clip: On DNRs
- A fascinating case just occurred in Florida where an unresponsive patient with no ID and no available next of kin arrived in the ED with "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed on his chest. What did the staff do?
- At first, the staff ignored the tattoo, opting to for a full code, but in an interesting twist, the ethics team reversed the decision, opting to honor the patient's tattoo.
- The patient's status deteriorated over the next few hours where he ultimately expired.
- See the original Gizmodo article here.
This case brings forward a ton of interesting ethical considerations for us as healthcare providers:
- Should we consider tattoos as legally binding documents? What if the patient made the tattoo as a joke? What if the patient was an 18-year old instead of the 70-year old patient in this case?
- And how far do we extend this precedent? What if a patient has a tattoo saying that, say, his girlfriend is his DPOA when the patient is still legally married to another person?
- What would you do in this situation? Share your comments below!