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Ethical Deliam of Dnr Orders

  • Date Submitted: 10/18/2011 12:04 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.9 
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Imagine that you are a severely ill patient lying in a hospital bed. Around you circulate a procession of doctors, nurses, family and friends. One question needs to be addressed. If your heart and breathing stop, should they try cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Should you or your appointed decision-maker apply a ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) order in your medical chart? This is a decision that cannot be taken lightly. It is important when making this decision that the dignity and value of all human life is based on conclusion of evidence-based survival prospects rather than value-of-life statements. This ethical dilemma can occur because of a DNR order that you, your family and friends, and medical professional staffing will face in the event that a life-threatening illness or injury were to occur.  
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are medical directives to withhold efforts to revive a patient who has a cardiac or respiratory arrest. The decision not to resuscitate is unique in health care as it is the only treatment decision that has to be made beforehand, i.e. before the event has occurred. Without a DNR decision by the physician, all staff is required to start CPR in the case of a heart stop even if it is obvious that this is not the best choice. These orders came into practice in the 1970s because of the New Jersey Supreme Court decision in the In re Quinlan case (Wikipedia). Medical professionals follow DNR orders when a person is not able to communicate his or her wishes to refuse medical treatment that may result in their death (US Legal). Through the 1970s and 1980s, many hospitals and physician would routinely create DNR orders without any discussions with the patients or patient’s family. The Quinlan case decision put an end to these practices as the case started the bioethics movement and the court emphasized the right of the patient and the patient’s surrogate decision maker to refuse the medical treatment, including life-sustaining therapies such as...

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