Overwhelmed NYC Hospitals Reportedly Implementing ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Policies For Coronavirus Patients

April 1, 2020 / Lisette Voytko, Forbes Staff

Topline: Some New York City hospitals are activating policies allowing doctors to not revive dying COVID-19 patients, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night, an idea that had been dismissed earlier by Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, as cases surge across the five boroughs and facilities are stretched thin.

  • The policies, called “do not resuscitate,” or DNR for short, are medical orders not to perform CPR on a patient if their heart stops beating, or if they stop breathing, according to Mount Sinai Health System.
  • Some New York City doctors are being allowed to not resuscitate COVID-19 patients to reduce their exposure to the virus, the Post reported, but spokespeople for Montefiore, NYU Langone Health and New York-Presbyterian’s Brooklyn Methodist hospitals said no system wide policies have been instated. 
  • Montefiore workers are reportedly no longer performing chest compressions on COVID-19 patients, due to the risk of exposure and the amount of protective gear needed, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
  • An unnamed Queens hospital was reportedly bullying older COVID-19 patients into signing DNR and “do not intubate” orders, Gothamist reported March 25.
  • The Journal reported Tuesday that NYU Langone’s head of emergency medicine advised doctors to “think more critically” about which patients should receive one of their limited number of ventilators, and that the institution would support doctors who “withhold futile intubations.”
  • Birx, one of the main faces of the White House coronavirus task force, dismissed the idea of DNRs Thursday: “There is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.”


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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Surgio Health as well as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG).

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