Emergency medical treatment and 'do not resuscitate' orders: When can they be used?

D J McQuoid-Mason


The Constitution and the National Health Act provide that nobody shall be refused emergency medical treatment. ‘Do not resuscitate’ (DNR) orders require that certain patients should not be given cardiopulmonary resuscitation to save their lives. Whether there is a conflict between these two requirements is answered by considering: (i) the meaning of emergency medical treatment; (ii) the relationship between emergency medical treatment and DNR orders; (iii) the meaning of futile medical treatment; (iv) the relationship between DNR orders and euthanasia; and (v) when DNR orders may be lawfully used.

Author's affiliations

D J McQuoid-Mason, Professor of Law, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Full Text



Emergency medical treatment, DNR orders, Legal implications

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(4):223-225. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6672

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-01-05
Date published: 2013-01-23

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