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ETHICS IN MEDICINE   University of Washington School of Medicine

Do Not Resuscitate Orders:
Case 2 Discussion

As a competent adult, this patient has the right to make decisions about her medical care. You must respect her wish not to be treated until she gives you permission to do so. However, it is especially important under these circumstances to clarify with Mrs. W her understanding of what CPR means and what her likely outcomes will be. To ensure that there is a clear understanding, addressing Mrs. W’s hopes and goals is essential. Perhaps she wants to live to see her granddaughter graduate from high school in two months, knowing that she will die soon thereafter, however she does not want heroic measures to prolong her life forever. Additionally, she may not want to live on machines for a prolonged period of time, and hence, if she survives cardiopulmonary arrest yet is dependent on a ventilator to breathe, her decision may change. Understanding Mrs. W’s goals may help you partner with her to make meaningful medical decisions that address her concerns and wishes throughout the duration of her illness.

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