Doctors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, were put in front of a moral dilemma when they stumbled upon a controversial tattoo across an unconscious patient’s chest. The 70-year-old man had the words Do Not Resuscitate written in big letters on his chest, and the doctors were put in a difficult position, not knowing what was the right thing to do.
The man had a Do Not Resuscitate tattoo on his chest
When he got to the hospital, the man was already in a poor condition. He had trouble breathing, and his blood pressure slowly started going down. Also, the doctors discovered he had high levels of alcohol in his blood, and that he was suffering from diabetes and pulmonary disease.
It was clear that they needed to intervene, or else the man wouldn’t have survived for long. However, there was the ethical problem of his Do Not Resuscitate tattoo. They couldn’t tell if it was legal to let a man die in these conditions, or if this was truly his wish. Therefore, the first thought was to find out what should be done.
The tattoo was more of a confusion than a clarification
In such cases, doctors usually avoid choosing the drastic decision, so they tried to wake the man up. However, he remained in a delirium state, and they couldn’t ask him anything. Usually, such Do Not Resuscitate tattoos are perceived as a joke, but this one was different. The word “not” appeared was bolded and underlined, and behind the writing stood something that looked like a signature.
The man ended up in the hospital without an ID or a close family member to question. Also, the doctors didn’t have time to look for a possible paper he might have with him, stating his wish. Therefore, they finally decided to follow the instructions of the Do Not Resuscitate tattoo.
“We did enough to keep him alive while we talked to ethics team,” said the doctors.
Usually, tattoos are hard to trust, since they are irreversible decisions which could have taken place in a moment of weakness. However, soon after the man died, they found the note which expressed his clear wish not to be resuscitated.