Consent ought to be required to withhold treatment that is in a patient’s best interests to receive. Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders are examples of best interests assessments at the end of life. Such assessments represent value judgments that cannot be validly ascertained without patient input. If patient input results in that patient dissenting to the DNR order then individual physicians are not justified in overriding such dissent. To do so would give unjustifiable primacy to the values of the individual physician. Therefore patient consent is effectively required to write a DNR order. Patient dissent to a DNR order should trigger a fair process mechanism to resolve the dispute.
Biegler P. Should patient consent be required to write a do-not-resuscitate order? Journal of Medical Ethics 2003; 29: 359-363