September 10, 2007

tattoo-dnr.jpg From Strange Tales:

Mary Wohlford, 80, of Decorah, Iowa, had the words “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on her chest [last year, tattoo shown above] to make her medical wishes clear, but at least one doctor thinks that isn’t enough to stop medical personnel. Dr. Mark Purtle of the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines told the Des Moines Register that state law defines when caregivers are permitted to end life-sustaining measures, and a tattoo isn’t enough. Wohlford noted that she also has a living will hanging on the side of her refrigerator.

Update: Zennurse wrote a comment and added to it in a separate email:

"I'm concerned about the limits of the post; she has a living will on her fridge and that is where the EMT's will look for it if needed. As a retired nurse, she decided to have the tattoo done after seeing what happened to Terri Schiavo, but she has family who know about her living will and she is apparently aware that it will cover her in an emergency. As a nurse myself, I feel certain she knows the tattoo will not. I think what I'm concerned with is that after reading through the comments, I find no mention of the fact that

having a living will or advance directive is the best way to exercise freedom of choice, in fact that is where such protections came from.

(Kind of like the labor party bringing you vacations) I see this woman's choice as more of a snarky statement of despair at the state of healthcare in this country and the pretty rational fear of overtreatment out of fear of litigation should she be "found down", or have a medical event outside her home which renders her unable to make choices for herself.

I'm glad you were prompted to post the petition link and have signed it. I just wish there had been a little more research into who she

was, why she did what she did and what the implications of it might be beyond a knee-jerk reaction that it was government out of control. I just don't think that's the case here.

I'm a hospice nurse and understand all too well the risks involved. I have stood over patients to prevent CPR while waiting for family to deliver the correct paperwork and have also, in earlier days, done CPR on patients who had no hope of surviving because the family insisted on taking the chance. The basic premise of the post is correct, it is about choice, but it says more about the disaster that is healthcare in the country than some underhanded effort by the government to limit our freedoms."

This story just came to my attention today, and it seems timely to run this video from last year. The whole thing is good, but particularly the story from Lucy at 2:02.

An 80-year-old woman should not need a tattoo on her chest in order to protect her right to refuse resuscitation if she has made the choice of sound mind. There is a petition online that covers this and other issues at the First Freedom First website.

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