Can a Written Tattoo Express Your Wishes?

Can a Written Tattoo Express Your Wishes?

Recently in Miami USA, a 70 year old man who had a history of heart disease, lung disease and diabetes was found intoxicated and completely unconscious on the street and was taken straight to hospital.

At the hospital, the doctors were startled to see a large tattoo across the man’s chest which said “Do Not Resuscitate”. The word “not” was underlined and the tattoo included a signature. The doctors were struggling to determine whether this truly represented what the patient intended or whether it was just a tattoo that was regrettably written when the man was intoxicated. The man had arrived at the hospital with no identification and no family members to tell the doctors the unconscious man’s true wishes.

The doctors at this hospital gave the man intravenous fluids, antibiotics and other medication to give them more time to make the decision of whether they should try and revive the man or leave him to die as per his tattooed wishes. The doctors were aware of a previous concerning case where a man had a similar “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo but this tattoo didn’t reflect his true dying wishes as he got the tattoo after losing a bet.

After some consultation, the doctors decided that the tattoo was in fact a true reflection of the patient’s wishes. The man’s health deteriorated overnight and he died the next morning without being resuscitated.

Fortunately, the doctors were relieved when the man’s do not resuscitate paperwork was found. It disclosed that his tattoo was in fact reflective of his wishes.

This case therefore serves as a reminder to ensure that your end of life wishes are clear and known to the people around you.