Patients with DNR orders far more likely to die after procedures

Patients with a “Do Not Resuscitate” order in place stipulating no “heroic” procedures be taken to preserve their lives are far more likely to die following surgery than those who do not, a new study finds.

The average study participants were white women with a mean age of 79, and the study analyzed data from 4,128 at 120 hospitals in the US between 2005 and 2008 as well as a control group of patients in similar circumstances. What researchers found is that twice as likely to die, regardless of the procedure’s nature or urgency:

“Compared with non-DNR patients, more than twice as many DNR patients died within 30 days of surgery (8.4 percent versus 23.1 percent). The DNR patients were more likely to die regardless of the urgency of the surgical procedure” — 35.5 percent versus 17.8 percent and 16.6 percent versus 5.5 percent for emergency and non-emergency procedures, respectively, wrote Hadiza Kazaure and colleagues at Yale University School of Medicine in a journal news release.

Rate of complications stood at 31% in patients with DNR orders versus 26.4% in patients without the orders in place. Researchers advise that the “complex” issues surrounding DNRs should be anticipated prior to surgery, regardless of whether they patient chooses to have one in place.

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