Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wrongful life resulting from unwanted CPR and other heroics

Paula Span in the NYT has an interesting and challenging essay about unwanted CPR. Others have also commented on this issue. There are legal, medical, and moral issues involved. In the CCRC when I live, we are more aware of this issue than in many venues. Storing our advance directives and POLST forms (if completed) in a hanging file under the kitchen sink at least gives a helpful head-start for medical responders. Some residents have acquired DNR bracelets or medallions, a more direct signal to try to prevent bystanders from initiating CPR. Others, of course, would like all measures including CPR to keep them going.
Society's general default is "to do everything to save a life" then clarify and ask questions. But many argue that their right to die peacefully is violated by unwanted CPR heroics. There's even an attempt in Maine to legalize the use of DNR tattoos.  The moral of the story for all of us - think hospice not hospital at the end; have a strong personal advocate; and consider a DNR bracelet or medallion when you have a POLST form.

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