Tattooed ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ doesn’t count

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2017 | wills & estates

People who do not want to go on life support often use a “Do Not Resuscitate” order as part of their end-of-life planning. If they pass away, it instructs doctors to just let them go, rather than fighting to bring them back.

People have many reasons for using these orders. Some just believe it’s their time. Others are worried about lasting physical or mental issues after a near-death experience and don’t want to be brought back just to live like that.

That said, a recent case shows that it’s important to write everything down on paper. Other methods, like a tattoo, aren’t going to sway medical professionals.

If that sounds astounding, it just happened. A 70-year-old man showed up at a hospital. He was drunk and unconscious, and medical officials felt he was dying without aid. However, he had “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed right across his chest.

Doctors had to make a quick decision. Should they obey the order or give him the help that he needed? They quickly decided that the tattoo was not legally binding.

There are many reasons. One is that they couldn’t ask the man if the tattoo was a serious desire or just some sort of joke. Plus, they did not know how long he’d had it. Perhaps he got the tattoo when he was 20. Had his opinions not changed in 50 years? Perhaps, but professionals note that people often change and update their end-of-life directives. The tattoo, being permanent, may not have been accurate.

This is an uncommon case, but it does help to show why it’s important for people who are doing their estate planning and end-of-life planning to know the proper legal steps to take.

Source: Reuters, “Tattooed wish for withholding treatment not good enough, doctors say,” Gene Emery, Dec. 04, 2017