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Keywords:

  • do not resuscitate (DNR) orders;
  • emergency medical services (EMS);
  • advance directives;
  • prehospital guidelines;
  • physician survey introduction

Objectives: To assess whether physicians know of Washington State's prehospital do-not-resuscitate (DNR) policy, 6 years after its implementation.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Washington State, April 2001.

Participants: Four hundred seventy-one practicing physicians.

Measurements: Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine relationships between physician and practice characteristics with knowledge of policies governing advance care planning.

Results: Among respondents, 60% did not know that Washington State requires an emergency medical service (EMS)-specific DNR order authored by a physician. Seventy-nine percent did not know that patient-authored advance directives apply only in hospitals and medical offices.

Conclusion: The findings in this study suggest that most physicians in Washington State lack knowledge about the documentation needed for EMS personnel to forgo pre-hospital attempts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Further study is needed to determine whether physician education or legislative change is necessary.