This post is for those of us involved in caring for ourselves or others. (If you don’t give a sh*t about anyone, don’t read on.) It comes from a blog post by a highly credentialed physician and professor of medicine.
“DNR” is supposedly just about employing CPR. Even that was somewhat surprising, but facts about how it’s used can be very upsetting:
And it’s not just in the midst of a disaster that physicians mistake “DNR” for “Do Not Treat.” Study after study has shown that physicians say they would not administer a whole variety of treatments to patients who are DNR. One representative study of 241 physicians found that they were far less likely to agree to transfer a patient to the intensive care unit or even to perform simple tests such as drawing blood.
Most recently, physicians and nurses caring for pediatric patients also told interviewers that in practice, DNR means far more than just do not perform CPR. In this survey of 107 pediatricians and 159 pediatric nurses in a hospital setting, 67% believed a DNR order only applies to what to do after a cardiac arrest—but 33% said it implied other limitations. And 52% said that once a DNR order is in place, a whole host of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions should be withdrawn, over and beyond CPR, and a small but disturbing minority, 6%, said that a DNR order means that comfort measures only are to be provided.
Note: comment 1 below draws our attention to the possibility of state variations on a DNR order. In addition, some DNR forms are part of a living will, where you specify more about what is wanted. So it is worth checking out what is available. The focus of this post is to say ‘DNR’ may not be understood as you want it to be.
I’m reminded here of the Wiittgensteinian point that you won’t find an interpretation that won’t itself need an interpretation. That’s why at some point we need community practices.