The implications of dying cancer patients' talk on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and do-not-resuscitate orders.Qual Health Res 2007; 17(4):442-55QH
Current medical emphasis on autonomy requires that patients be primary in authorizing do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders, countermanding provision of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on terminally ill patients. The assumptions that patients make regarding CPR and DNR orders will influence their choices about them. Using discursive analysis, the authors examined the speech of 28 patients dying of cancer regarding the appropriateness of refraining from CPR or of instituting DNR orders. Most participants identified CPR as inappropriate in their circumstances, favoring institution of DNR orders. However, a minority drew on dominant construals of DNR orders and CPR to locate themselves outside the category of suitable candidates for DNR orders, thus justifying a preference for CPR--even though some had current DNR orders. Doctors' and patients' assessments of eligibility for DNR orders might not coincide, and when patient autonomy is presumed by patients to be determinant, discrepancies between patient expectations and instituted medical practice are inevitable.