Beware: Hospitals think ‘do not resuscitate’ means you don’t want to live

Patients, beware. When you’re admitted to a hospital, you’re routinely asked if you want to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order. Don’t assume it’ll apply only in extreme circumstances.

New research shows having those three letters — DNR — on your chart could put you on course to getting less medical and nursing care throughout your stay. Fewer MRIs and CT scans, fewer medications, even fewer bedside visits from doctors, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. A DNR could cost you your life.

DNR means if your heart stops or you can’t breathe, medical staff will let you die naturally, instead of rushing to give you cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Correctly interpreted, a DNR bars just that one procedure: resuscitation. But scientists are discovering that many doctors and nurses take DNR to mean you want end-of-life care only. They misconstrue DNR as Dying Not Recovering.

They even hesitate to put DNR patients in the ICU when they need intensive care.

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