, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 1238-1239
Date: 19 Jul 2012

The Problem with Actually Tattooing DNR across Your Chest

This is an excerpt from the content

No doubt JGIM readers have heard a clinician exclaim, after participating in a code or witnessing the suffering of a resuscitated patient, “I should have DNR tattooed across my chest!” For those individuals who strongly desire not to be resuscitated, the tattoo idea is appealing. By its nature, a tattoo implies a preference against resuscitation so strong that the person has etched the image onto their body. The tattoo is inseparable from the body. Unlike Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) paperwork or medic-alert bracelets, it cannot be misplaced, easily removed, or lost. Emergency responders are unlikely to miss seeing a DNR tattoo on the chest prior to attempting resuscitation.

To the extent that we should find ways of respecting persons’ deeply held preferences not to be resuscitated, we agree with the sentiment, if not the method. Clinicians are morally and legally obligated to respect the preferences of patients to forgo life-sustaining treatment.1 The notion of a tattoo stems in part from ...