Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and do-not-resuscitate orders: a guide for clinicians

Am J Med. 2010 Jan;123(1):4-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.05.029.


The do-not-resuscitate order, introduced nearly a half century ago, continues to raise questions and controversy among health care providers and patients. In today's society, the expectation and availability of medical interventions, including at the end of life, have rendered the do-not-resuscitate order particularly relevant. The do-not-resuscitate order is the only order that requires patient consent to prevent a medical procedure from being performed; therefore, informed code status discussions between physicians and patients are especially important. Epidemiologic studies have informed our understanding of resuscitation outcomes; however, patient, provider, and institutional characteristics account for great variability in the prevalence of do-not-resuscitate orders. Specific strategies can improve the quality of code status conversations and enhance end-of-life care planning. In this article, we review the history, epidemiology, and determinants of do-not-resuscitate orders, as well as frequently encountered questions and recommended strategies for discussing this important topic with patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / standards*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Male
  • Medical Futility / ethics*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends
  • Resuscitation Orders*
  • United States