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Involving patients in do not resuscitate (DNR) decisions: an old issue raising its ugly head.
  1. E H Loewy
  1. University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria.


    A recent paper in this journal (1) suggests that involving terminally ill patients in choices concerned with Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) produces 'psychological pain' and therefore is ill-advised. Such a claim rests on anecdotal observations made by the authors. In this paper I suggest that drawing conclusions in ethics, no less than in science, requires a rigorous framework and cannot be relegated to personal observation of a few cases. The paper concludes by suggesting that patients, if we acknowledge their valid interest in making their own choices, must themselves be allowed to make a prior choice about choosing. Those who may not wish to choose may properly be relieved of this burden and may allow another to choose for them. Routinely allowing others to make choices for competent adults, however, is likely to decrease communication with the dying patient and to introduce an atmosphere of suspicion and fear and to exclude the competent patient from his/her rightful place in the community.

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