More than twenty-five years have elapsed since the first Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) policies were proposed. A historical review of the application of DNR policies is provided with its rationale and perceived effects. A viewpoint is presented, that acceptance of implied consent for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in hospitalized patients was responsible for drawing up of DNR policies. Unfortunately, the principle of informed consent as related to CPR and DNR policies, has had unintended consequences. Practical results do not indicate that medical practices have become more humane. Abuses of the process go beyond matters of style and experience, in communicating with surrogate decision-makers. Instead of generating compassion and respect for the patient, policies may contribute to cynicism and lack of caring amongst physicians. Overly optimistic dependence on advance directives to reform medical practices, appears unjustified. The concept of futility to limit demands for non-beneficial care is examined. It is unlikely that physicians can routinely invoke futility, as an argument to limit treatments. A re-examination of DNR policies as a defense against technologic imperative is warranted.
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