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Resuscitation. 2013 Apr;84(4):483-7. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2012.08.327. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

The impact of early do not resuscitate (DNR) orders on patient care and outcomes following resuscitation from out of hospital cardiac arrest.

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Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239-3098, USA.



Among patients successfully resuscitated from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) and admitted to California hospitals, we examined how the placement of a do not resuscitate (DNR) order in the first 24h after admission was associated with patient care, procedures and inhospital survival. We further analyzed hospital and patient demographic factors associated with early DNR placement among patients admitted following OHCA.


We identified post-OHCA patients from a statewide California database of hospital admissions from 2002 to 2010. Documentation of patient and hospital demographics, hospital interventions, and patient outcome were analyzed by descriptive statistics and multiple regression models to calculate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.


Of 5212 patients admitted to California hospitals after resuscitation from OHCA, 1692 (32.5%) had a DNR order placed in the first 24h after admission. These patients had decreased frequency of cardiac catheterization (1.1% vs. 4.3%), blood transfusion (7.6% vs. 11.2%), ICD placement (0.1% vs. 1.1%), and survival to discharge (5.2% vs. 21.6%, all p-values<0.0001). There was wide intrahospital variability and significant racial differences in the adjusted odds of early DNR orders (Asian, OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.48-0.95; Black, OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.35-0.69).


Early DNR placement is associated with a decrease in potentially critical hospital interventions, procedures, and survival to discharge, and wide variability in practice patterns between hospitals. In the absence of prior patient wishes, DNR placement within 24h may be premature given the lack of early prognostic indicators after OHCA.

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