Bioethics Blogs

New York May Allow Nurse Practitioners to Sign DNR Orders

A new bill in New York (S.B. 6314) follows the lead of many other states by proposing to authorize nurse practitioners to execute orders not to resuscitate and orders pertaining to life sustaining treatments.  

“In New York, currently only attending physicians, are authorized to execute an order not to resuscitate, as well as orders pertaining to life sustaining treatments.  While not in even the legislative findings of the bill itself, the following “justification” for the bill is well-written.”

“Modern medicine’s ability to save and sustain life has created a new imperative to balance technology with humanity. Doing more is no longer synonymous with doing better. The question of whether and under what circumstances medical intervention should cease and a person should be permitted to die is one of the most controversial issues facing society today.”

“In 1987, in accordance with the proposed legislation from the New York State Task Force on Life and The Law, the legislature enacted and the Governor signed a law to establish policies for DNR orders in community settings, such a private homes. Under current law, the attending physician must obtain the contemporaneous consent of a patient with decisional capacity prior to issuing a DNR. The 1987 law also requires the attending physician to obtain the consent of a minor’s parent or legal guardian before issuing a DNR order for the minor. If the minor has decisional capacity, as determined by the attending physician’s consultation with the minor’s parents, the physician must obtain the minor’s assent to issuance of the order.”

“More recently, in 2010, the legislature enacted and the Governor signed into law the Family Health Care Decisions Act, which enabled family members to make health care decisions, including decisions about the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, on behalf of patients who lose their ability to make such decisions and
have not prepared advance directives regarding their wishes.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.