What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order?

What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order?

John Strohmeyer explains what a Do Not Resuscitate (or DNR) Order does, why it is less than common in Texas, and the situations it does and does not cover.



What is a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)?

A form we use infrequently but gets asked about a lot is the Do Not Resuscitate Order, also known as a DNR. This is a form that you can use to ensure that if you are in a life-or-death situation outside of a hospital, instructions can be left so that you are not resuscitated by doctors, EMTS, or other medical personnel. Simply put, this document says that if something happens to you and you are in a situation where your death is inevitable, you want to be allowed to die.
This is different from a Medical Power of Attorney in which you appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you. This is also different from an Advance Directive in which you make certain decisions about your care and treatment in end-of-life situations.

When do we use a DNR?

A DNR covers situations in which you are outside of a hospital and want to make sure you are not revived. This prevents medical personnel from performing CPR, using a defibrillator to restart you heart, and using advanced airway management to ensure you’re breathing. Essentially, if they’re there and see that you have a properly signed DNR, medical personnel can only ensure your comfort as you leave this world.

How do we get one?

The form comes from the State Legislature, and we generally don’t alter it. For this document to be valid, you will normally need two witnesses and a notary public. Additionally, unlike other Estate Planning documents, you must have a physician sign this document and provide their license number. We don’t usually start this document. Because a physician must sign off on it, we want to make sure the physician is comfortable with the form. So usually if you want a DNR, we will ask your physician to provide us with one.

In Summary

If a DNR has been properly signed, then doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel must honor this request, unless there are a few unusual circumstances such as an incomplete DNR. In the end, a DNR is a document we rarely use, but is still available to you if your death is imminent, you are not in a hospital, and you do not want resuscitation.

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