Would [family members] be more likely to consent to or decline CPR depending on whether the medical order was “do not resuscitate” versus “allow natural death”?
What’s in a word? When it comes to making specific plans for your end-of-life health care decisions, a word can make all the difference. And when it comes to your health care directives, the words you choose can be a matter of life and death.
A recent post over at The New Old Age Blog in “DNR by Another Name” illustrates the importance of words and their legal import. It is worth reading the original article (and perhaps even the study it discusses).
Consider this: how a doctor presents a medical choice can lead a caregiver or patient in one direction or the other. For example, as taken from the title of the article, DNR, or “Do Not Resuscitate” is a medical term of art. However, it often means the same as “please allow for a natural death” depending upon the medical situation, the decisions of the patient, and even (or often exclusively) the very word choices and/or mood of the doctor themselves.
As one planning your own late-in-life decisions, language is a topic worthy of your careful consideration. Additionally, if you are caring for an elderly loved one, then be sure both of you understand your loved one’s advance health care wishes and take steps to clearly articulate them in proper medical directives.
Do not assume anything when it comes to the ultimate health care decisions. Make sure the patient, their appointed health care agent and the physician are all speaking the same language.
Communication and documentation are essential. I'd be happy to help your family navigate the tricky language choices involved in making medical decisions. Please contact my office.Reference: The New Old Age Blog – The New York Times (May 22, 2013) “DNR by Another Name”