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Man’s tattoo prevents resuscitation.

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What sounds like nightmare from a medical ethics class happened recently in Florida. A man was admitted to a hospital unconscious, a history of serious health problems, no family, no identification, on his chest a tattoo that says: Do Not Resuscitate.

According to CNN “A newly published study in The New England Journal of Medicine explored the ethical and medical conundrums the staff faced when presented with a 70-year-old patient whose denial of potentially life-saving treatment was right there on his skin.”

A study authored by a team of medical professionals from the University of Miami stated that the doctors attending to the man wanted to ignore the tattoo because “there was no way to be absolutely sure that’s what the man wanted.”

The study stated, “We decided to not honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty.” The doctors decided to treat the man with antibiotics and other life-saving measures. However, the hospital’s ethics consultant had a different opinion.  According to an article in the in the Journal of General Internal Medicine,  “Clinicians are morally and legally obligated to respect the preferences of patients to forgo life-sustaining treatment.”

“The emergency responder may wonder: (D)o the letters stand for Do Not Resuscitate? Or Department of Natural Resources? Or someone’s initials? Second, the tattoo may not result from a considered decision to forego resuscitation. Errors in interpretation may have life and death consequences,” the Journal of General Internal Medicine article said.

According to CNN, Ultimately, a do not resuscitate order was issued, and the man died. The authors of the study said they were “relieved to find his written DNR request,” but the initial confusion over the tattoo brought up a curious issue that has been debated in the medical community on several occasions.

In my opinion, I think that the doctors and medical team did the right thing. Because already stated before, they could not be certain if that’s what he wanted.

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Man’s tattoo prevents resuscitation.