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When A Tattoo Means Life Or Death. Literally

"The man was unconscious and alone when he arrived at University of Miami Hospital last summer. He was 70 years old and gravely ill."

"'Originally, we were told he was intoxicated,' remembers Dr. Gregory Holt, an emergency room doctor, 'but he didn't wake up.'"

"'He wasn't breathing well. He had COPD. These would all make us start to resuscitate someone,' says Holt. "But the tattoo made it complicated.'"

"The tattoo stretched across the man's chest. It said "Do Not Resuscitate." His signature was tattooed at the end."

"'We were shocked,' remembers Holt. 'We didn't know what to do.'"

"The tattoo, and the hospital's decision about what it required of them, has set off a conversation among doctors and medical ethicists around the country about how to express one's end-of-life wishes effectively, and how policymakers can make it easier."

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