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'Do Not Resuscitate' Orders

Rodney J. Simonsen, MD
JAMA. 1986;255(10):1291. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370100085018.
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To the Editor.—  I am concerned that we may be misinterpreting the order "do not resuscitate" (DNR). This order does not always reflect our concerns about a patient's current situation, but is merely a statement regarding the decision that has been made about the next catastrophic event that may occur in that person's life. A DNR order, while frequently written for patients who are not expected to return to a truly gainful or meaningful life, is not too different from a "living will," which many of us have executed. The living will merely makes a declaration about a catastrophic medical event that may occur in someone's life in the future, and is in essence a DNR statement in a situation where resuscitation will probably not lead to normal recovery. I do not think that medical services should be withheld from patients who are now living merely because a decision has


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