At Medical Futility, law professor Thaddeus Pope considers a controversial idea to change the default rule for certain patients from CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to DNR (Do Not Resuscitate).
The medical literature is replete with learned commentary about the unique status of CPR as the one medical intervention that patient must consent NOT to have. And the literature is replete with studies of the extremely limited effectiveness of CPR for certain patient populations. For certain patient populations, DNR is widely perceived to be socially desirable in terms of avoiding patient suffering, avoiding staff distress, and saving resources. But physicians are unwilling to seek consent to DNR orders. And patients and surrogates are unwilling to give consent. They do not want to confront death.