In the world of advance medical directives there have been a few stories in the news about people who chose to tattoo their wishes on their body. Specifically, some people have chosen to tattoo the words “Do Not Resuscitate” on their chests. While you can get any tattoo you want, it is probably—from a legal perspective—not a wise choice to rely on a DNR tattoo.
A do not resuscitate order, commonly abbreviated as DNR, is an advance medical directive that tells healthcare workers that you do not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation should your heart stop and you stop breathing. A lot of people, especially those with terminal medical conditions, choose to create a DNR individually or along with other medical directives.
To make any legally valid advance medical directive you have to meet the requirements as stipulated under your state’s laws. All states have different laws but no state has a law that specifically mentions DNR tattoos or tattoos that create an advance medical directive. There is also no case in which a court has been asked to rule on whether a DNR tattoo is legally valid.
Because of this it is very unlikely that a doctor, first responder, or any other healthcare worker would see a DNR tattoo as a valid medical directive. If you choose to create a do not resuscitate order and want to be sure your wishes are followed it’s probably best to carry a medical alert bracelet or alert card that healthcare workers would recognize.