Populist DNR Movement

I propose a new social movement called "populist DNR.". DNR means "do not resuscitate."

Hospice began the "death with dignity" movement in the UK in the 1970s. Some call hospice "legalized euthanasia." In most caring professional hands a person with a "terminal" disease is kept home as long as possible with outpatient medical, nursing and psychosocial support. When circumstances or caretaker opinion dictate, institutional care might be necessary, but much hospice and death occur at home.

Do pain meds slow body functions? Yes. Do people die from meds rather than the underlying disease? Yes. Do caretakers occasionally administer intentional overdoses of pain meds? Yes, but the goal of hospice is to keep the patient free of physical and psychological pain.

Hospice has been widely accepted as a good way to die, if one must die slowly.

Mainstream medical acute care is a different story where death is concerned. Americans usually fall into one of two categories: those who believe that all humans from conception to grave should be kept alive under all circumstances, and those who don't.

The latter category includes most people, and their differing viewpoints about life after death. Caretakers with views opposite those of the patient and family may end up stating their opinions to a hospital ethics committee or may be replaced. In most situations conversation or conferences produces consensus.

Emergency roadside management dictates all-out CPR except when a person is wearing an official hospice DNR bracelet.

I propose each person has the right to his own death management, exemplified by living wills issued by hospitals when one is electively admitted. Living wills must be suspended for any elective surgery because no surgeon wants his patient to die on his watch.

I propose that "DNR" written by the patient on the lower breastbone at the cardiac-compression point of CPR be honored by all medical personnel in and out of hospital.

We are eternal beings on physical journeys. Sternal DNR imprint, ink or paint or tattoo, can enable families, caretakers and emergency personnel to act accordingly.