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Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Releases December Advisory
Date:1/12/2009

Reports show that healthcare providers, patients and their families may not understand the different meanings and consequences of living wills and DNR (do not resuscitate) orders

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 200 events reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority in part show that healthcare providers, patients and their family members may not understand the different meanings and consequences of living wills and DNR (do not resuscitate) orders which may pose patient safety risks according to analysis provided in the 2008 December Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory.

Potential patient safety risks related to the misinterpretation of living wills and DNR orders may inadvertently result in the delivery of unwanted care or the withdrawing or withholding of otherwise appropriate care that should have been given to the patient.

According to the Authority data: 93 reports regarding living wills or DNR orders indicated that a DNR order may have been misinterpreted as a directive to withdraw or withhold care, suggesting the healthcare providers may not have understood the narrow scope of a DNR order.

"Our data shows that more education must be given to healthcare providers, patients and their families to ensure everyone involved understands that a living will does not become effective automatically -- certain conditions must be met according to Pennsylvania law first," Dr. John Clarke, clinical director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority said. "Also, in regard to DNR orders, healthcare providers and patients need to know that these particular orders only apply to a patient's wishes not to be resuscitated if they have a heart attack or stop breathing. A DNR order does not mean 'do not treat.'"

Clarke explains that a living will is a document signed by an individual that is intended to convey that person's preferences regarding end-o
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority
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