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Prehosp Disaster Med. 1993 Oct-Dec;8(4):317-22.

Prehospital do-not-resuscitate orders: a survey of state policies in the United States.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Lackland AFB, Texas 78236, USA.



Many states in the United States have developed policies that enable prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) providers to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the terminally ill. Several states also have policies that enable the implementation of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.


1) assess which states have statutes governing DNR orders for the prehospital setting; 2) determine which states authorize DNR orders in ways other than by specific state statue; and 3) define those states that had regional protocols which address prehospital DNR orders.


Survey of the state EMS directors in each of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.


As of 1992, specific legislation authorizing the implementation of DNR orders was in place in 11 states. In addition, six others have a legal opinion or policy allowing the implementation of DNR orders. Fourteen additional states have either working groups or legislation pending that address prehospital DNR orders. In only five were there no existing regional protocols for implementation of DNR orders in the prehospital setting.


There exists great variation in legal authorization by states for implementation of DNR orders in the prehospital setting. Despite the existence of enabling legislation, many state, regional, or local EMS systems have implemented policies dealing with DNR orders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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