A new case in British Columbia is reminiscent of
the many Ontario cases brought by Joy Wawrzyniak on behalf of her father Douglas DeGuerre.
Clinicians refused to resuscitate Zaixing Wang, because a doctor had written a DNR order on his medical chart. His daughter never consented to the order and never even understood that one would be written.
But the attending physician told two review panels that he had explained his treatment plan to the family, including putting a DNR order on Wang’s chart in the event of “acute cardiopulmonary deterioration,” given his “poor pulmonary reserve.”
In the recently completed reviews, both the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s Patient Care Quality Office accepted Lau’s statement that he had that conversation with the family.
This case may illustrated the challenge with obtaining only “assent” rather than consent when writing a DNR order on the basis of medical futility. The family may not understand that clinicians will automatically implement the announced plan.
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.