Picture this: A man is admitted to the hospital, unconscious, with a history of serious health problems and a high blood alcohol level. He has no identification and no family with him. On his chest, he has a tattoo: "Do Not Resuscitate."
What would you do?
It sounds like a worst-case-scenario question from a medical ethics course, but it really happened recently at a Florida hospital. A newly published study in The New England Journal of Medicine explored the ethical and medical conundrums the staff faced when presented with a 70-year-old patient whose denial of potentially life-saving treatment was right there on his skin.