Utah bans doctors from assigning ‘DNR’ orders for children without parental consent

A new Utah amendment set to take effect on May 1 will prevent children from being assigned “do not resuscitate” (DNR) status without parental consent. Under the amendment, such an action will be considered unprofessional conduct for physicians, advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), and physicians assistants.

HB-0200 modifies Titles 58 and 75, ensuring parental rights are protected during a minor’s life-sustaining medical treatment. It added “designating a child as do not resuscitate without parental consent” under the umbrella of unprofessional conduct.

Simon’s law is named for baby boy Simon who was born in September of 2010 and at three days old, was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, also known as Edward’s syndrome. When his oxygen levels began to drop in early December, doctors told his parents, that “nothing” could be done to save him. But once Simon had died, nurses indicated to the Crosiers that they had been prevented from helping Simon and that they should look at their son’s chart. On it, Simon’s parents saw that a DNR order had been placed in his medical file against their knowledge.

Screenshot Utah State Legislature 4/30/24.

READ: Report: Individuals with learning disabilities in UK given DNRs during pandemic

“I can’t bring my son, Simon, back,” said Sheryl, “but I want to make sure that no parent or guardian of a minor child is stripped of their parental rights in the determination of their child’s life or death.”

In addition to protecting children from non-parental DNR orders, the amendment also protects parental rights regarding life-sustaining treatment for their minor child. When reviewing Simon’s chart, his parents noticed that he had only been receiving comfort feeds, which did not provide enough nutrition for growth and development. In addition, Simon had been given Ativan (lorazepam), a drug they later learned suppressed his respiratory system and was contraindicated for his apnea.

“Someone else decided our son’s life didn’t have value. Care was withheld and a DNR order was placed in our son’s chart, without our knowledge or consent as Simon’s parents,” Crossier said in testimony in support of Simon’s Law. “Ultimately, our wishes were ignored and most likely, Simon’s death was expedited.”

Editor’s Note 4/30/24: This article was updated with new links.

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