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New York's DNR Law Does Not Require Futile Resuscitation

Barbara A. DeBuono, MD, MPH
Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(4):467-468. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440250127023.
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Pollack1 makes serious misstatements in his critique of New York's do-not-resuscitate (DNR) law. He asserts incorrectly that the law requires physicians to perform futile resuscitation unless the patient or surrogate explicitly consents to the entry of a DNR order. Apparently, Pollack is referring to a provision in the law stating that every person admitted to a hospital shall be presumed to consent to the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, unless there is consent to the issuance of an order not to resuscitate as provided in this article.2

A presumption in favor of resuscitation does not mean that resuscitation must be attempted when it is clear that it will not work. As the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, the commission that wrote the DNR law, has pointed out the presumption protects health care professionals from liability for


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