We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Article |

Do Not Resuscitate Orders and the Cost of Death

Alfred Maksoud, MD; Dennis W. Jahnigen, MD; Christine I. Skibinski, MS
Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(10):1249-1253. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410100075011.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


Background:  The appropriate role of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the hospital continues to be a topic of interest to physicians and patients alike. The use of do not resuscitate (DNR) orders reflects a growing expression of autonomy by patients to refuse medical treatment, and also a growing recognition of its futility in many circumstances by physicians. Although it has been suggested that wider use of advance directives will lead to a reduction in health care costs near the end of life, little empiric data exist to support this prediction. This study was designed to ascertain the rates of DNR orders and their associated costs.

Methods:  A retrospective chart review was conducted on the hospital records of 852 of 953 hospital deaths that occurred in a referral hospital. Data were collected on resuscitation status, timing of DNR orders, participants in decision making, and physician and hospital charges.

Results:  Of the 852 records reviewed, 625 (73%) had a DNR order at the time of death. The use of DNR orders for patients who died ranged from 97% of those on an oncology service to 43% of deaths on cardiology services. One hundred seven patients (17%) had the DNR order before admission. Of 512 patients who had a new DNR order in the hospital, approval was obtained from the patient in only 19%. Patients who died with a DNR order had longer hospital stays (median, 11.0 days) compared with those who died without a DNR order (6.0 days). The time from DNR order to death was 2 days overall with 2.0 days for medical patients and 1.0 day for surgical patients. Average charges for each patient who died were $61 215 with $10 631 for those admitted with a DNR order, and $73 055 for those who had a DNR order made in hospital.

Conclusion:  This study demonstrates high variability in the use of DNR orders between various medical and surgical services. These range from a high of 98% on an oncology service to a low of 43% on cardiology. Most patients have a DNR order at the time of death, but these typically occur late in the course of the hospital stay. Death in the hospital is costly and total hospital and professional charges are significantly lower when a patient is admitted with an established nonresuscitation order compared with those for whom a DNR is established while in the hospital. This study provides a basis against which to measure the impact of efforts such as the Patient SelfDetermination Act of 1990 to increase the use of advance directives, as well as monitor their effect on health care expenditures.(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:1249-1253)


Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?





Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

50 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.