Do Not Resuscitate Tattoo, Doctors Confused
When an unconscious man was delivered to ER doctors in Florida, they were not sure how to proceed. The patient had a “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattoo that came complete with the man’s signature. Doctors were confused and didn’t want to make the wrong call, so they consulted with the hospital’s ethics team. Who knew that hospitals had an ethics team? Unless you’re in the medical field, or are one of those strange people who pride yourself on knowing about all things medical, you’ve probably never heard of such a thing. It’s probably a good thing for a hospital to have… along with some Band-Aids and tongue depressors.
The 70-year-old man was brought into the ER with an elevated blood alcohol level and a history of medical problems. After the man was admitted, he started to go downhill fast. If he was going to survive, he would need some serious medical intervention pronto. Hospital staff couldn’t get a hold of any of his family members and the patient was, obviously, unable to communicate his true wishes. Did he really want his DO NOT RESUSCITATE tattoo to be honored, or was it just a fashion choice that should be ignored by doctors? If he had a tattoo that said “Kiss My Ass,” would they do it?
The medical team working on the patient said, “We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty. This decision left us conflicted owing to the patient’s extraordinary effort to make his presumed advance directive known; therefore, an ethics consultation was requested.”
Do not resuscitate orders are only legally-binding when they are notarized and signed by the person to whom it concerns most. The patient’s tattoo wasn’t notarized, and the signature on his tattoo wasn’t inked into the skin by the patient himself, it was done by a tattoo artist. So, if somebody else signs your name, it’s not legal.
The doctors fought to keep the Florida man alive while the ethics team decided what to do with the man. The ethics team decided that the tattoo expressed the man’s true feelings about the matter and his DNR order was granted. After the patient died, they found his medical records and discovered that he did, indeed, have a legitmate DNR in place. The ethics team members had made the right call, but it easily could’ve been the wrong one.
Doctors Had To Deal With A Do Not Resuscitate Tattoo Before
In 2012, doctors were confronted with the same situation with a 59-year-old male patient. The previous case had a different and happier outcome. The doctors decided to ignore the man’s DNR tattoo, and discovered that it was the right decision when the man regained consciousness. He said that his Do Not Resuscitate tattoo was the result of being drunk and losing a bet during a game of poker. This particular patient was relieved that the doctors didn’t take his tattoo as being gospel. Trevor from Grand Theft Auto fame has a “Cut Here” tattoo around the base of his neck. Do you think a doctor would follow those directions? Not likely.
These DNR tats are confusing to doctors, and they may not make the right choice concerning your wishes. So, if you really don’t want to be hooked up to a machine and saved from death’s grip, make sure you get a real DNR order. The life you save may be your own. Or, the death you preserve may not kill you or make you stronger.