Last year we blogged about DNR tattoos in Florida, and how they are probably not an effective way to convey your medical wishes. Today we are going to follow up on that post by looking at some common questions people might have about DNR tattoos, and advance directives in general. The continued growth and popularity of tattoos has caused many people to consider using them as a way to tell health care workers that they do not wish to be resuscitated in the event their heart or breathing stops. While this might seem like a reasonable option when it comes to expressing your medical wishes, it is probably quite the opposite. Let’s take a look at why this is true.
What is a DNR?
As a capable adult, you have the ability to make your own medical decisions. Should you wish to do so, you can choose to refuse resuscitative treatment designed to restart your heart or your lungs in the event they stop. A do not resuscitate order, often abbreviated as either DNRO or DNR, is a document that informs health care workers that you do not wish to receive this type of medical care.
So, for example, should you be suffering from a terminal illness and decide that you do not want to be resuscitated if your heart or lungs should stop, you can fill out the DNR and your health care providers will be prevented from resuscitating you should that happen.
DNRs are also often referred to as advance directives, or advance medical directives, because they are tools that allow you to state your medical choices prior to, or in advance of, requiring medical treatment.
What is a DNR tattoo?
A DNR tattoo, as its name implies, is a tattoo that expresses the desire not to receive resuscitative treatments. These tattoos will include the letters “DNR,” the phrase “do not resuscitate,” or similar combinations or words to that effect. People who get DNR tattoos do so to express their wishes not to receive resuscitative methods when their heart or lungs stop functioning.
Are DNR tattoos legal?
Every state has its own standards for determining what a person has to do in order to make a legally effective advance directive, including DNRs. There is no state that currently has a law that addresses the legal effectiveness of a DNR tattoo. Instead, state laws typically state that in order to make an effective advance directive, a person has to create a document that complies with some specific standards. Tattoos are not documents, and it is unclear if a court would accept a DNR tattoo as a legally effective advance directive. Further, health care workers would have no way of knowing if a DNR tattoo accurately represents the patient’s current designs. For these, and other reasons, it is probably not a good idea to rely on a DNR tattoo as a legally effective advance medical directive.