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Reviving the Conversation Around CPR/DNR

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This paper examines the historical rise of both cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order and the wisdom of their continuing status in U.S. hospital practice and policy. The practice of universal presumed consent to CPR and the resulting DNR policy are the products of a particular time and were responses to particular problems. In order to keep the excesses of technology in check, the DNR policies emerged as a response to the in-hospital universal presumed consent to CPR. We live with this historical concretion, which seems to perpetuate a false culture that the patient's wishes must be followed. The authors are critical of the current U.S. climate, where CPR and DNR are viewed as two among a panoply of patient choices, and point to UK practice as an alternative. They conclude that physicians in the United States should radically rethink approaches to CPR and DNR.
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Keywords: cardiopulmonary resuscitation; do-not-resuscitate orders; futility; presumed consent

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2: Universities of Exeter and Plymouth,

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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