ADVANCE HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVES
In December 2017, doctors at a Florida hospital faced an interesting ethical dilemma when an unconscious man was wheeled into the emergency room with the words “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest.
The 70-year-old patient arrived at the hospital without family, friends, or any type of identification. The only clue the doctors had regarding his end-of-life wishes were the three words permanently inked below his collarbone.
Despite the seemingly clear message, doctors were still conflicted about how to proceed. Should they really make such a critical decision based off of a tattoo? What if the patient had gotten it 10 years ago and had since changed his mind? Without any type of DNR, Advance Healthcare Directive, living will, or other indicative document, the doctors were unsure of the patient’s true and current wishes.
This unusual situation has led doctors around the country to encourage their patients to create advance care planning documents with clear-cut directions on how to approach end-of-life decisions.
Most people are familiar with the standard Advance Healthcare Directive, but there are other documents that can be utilized as well. The following are some of the most commonly used medical forms and documents used in emergency and end-of-life scenarios.