Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders are necessary if resuscitation, the default option in hospitals, should be avoided because a patient is known to be dying and attempted resuscitation would be inappropriate. To avoid inappropriate resuscitation at night, if no DNR order has been recorded, after-hours medical staff are often asked to have a DNR discussion with patients whose condition is deteriorating, but with whom they are unfamiliar. Participants in two qualitative studies of cancer patients’ views on how to present DNR discussions recognized that such patients are at different stages of understanding of their situation and may not be ready for a DNR discussion; therefore, a one-policy-fits-all approach was thought to be inappropriate. To formulate a policy that incorporates the patient’s views, we propose that a standard form which mandates a DNR discussion is replaced by a “blank sheet” with instructions to record the progress of the discussion with the patient, and a medical recommendation for a DNR decision to guide the nursing staff in case of a cardiac arrest. Such an advance care directive would have to honor specifically expressed patient or guardian wishes whilst allowing for flexibility, yet would direct nurses or other staff so that they can avoid inappropriate cardiopulmonary resuscitation of a patient dying of cancer.