What is a DNR Order?
DNR stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is a medical order that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other life-sustaining measures in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. A DNR order is typically written by a physician or other healthcare provider after discussing the risks and benefits of resuscitation with a patient or their surrogate decision maker. The decision to have a Do Not Resuscitate order in place is a personal one and should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider based on an individual’s medical history and values.
Who should have a DNR?
Generally, Do Not Resuscitate orders are appropriate for individuals with terminal illnesses or serious chronic conditions that are unlikely to be cured. DNRs are also appropriate for individuals who may not be physically strong enough to easily recover from resuscitation measures in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest.
It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your medical history, current health status, and personal values to determine if a DNR order is appropriate for you.
Additionally, it is equally important to discuss your wishes with your family and other loved ones for several reasons:
- To ensure your wishes are respected: By discussing your DNR order with your family, you can make sure they are aware of your wishes and are prepared to advocate for your preferences in the event of a medical emergency.
- To alleviate confusion or conflict: If your family is unaware of your DNR order, they may be confused or conflicted about what actions to take in the event of a medical emergency. Discussing your wishes in advance will help to alleviate any confusion or conflict that may arise.
- To provide emotional support: Discussing your DNR order with your family can also provide emotional support for both you and your loved ones. By having an open and honest conversation, you can express your wishes and feelings, and your family can provide reassurance and support.
- To ensure that your healthcare provider is aware of your wishes: If your loved ones are aware of your wishes, they can communicate your choices to any healthcare professional providing emergency medical care who might otherwise not be aware of your DNR order.
What information is typically found in a Do Not Resuscitate?
A simple Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order typically contains the following information:
- A clear statement that the patient does not wish to undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other life-sustaining measures in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest.
- The patient’s name and identification number.
- The date the order was written and signed by a physician or other authorized healthcare provider.
- The signature of the physician or healthcare provider who wrote the order.
The exact format of a DNR order varies by jurisdiction and healthcare facility.
Where to find examples of DNR Forms
If you decide to write your own DNR order, Legal Templates DNR form builder helps you draft all the necessary paperwork. Upon completion, take your DNR medical form to your physician and have them sign it. Your doctor should then file it with the rest of your medical records.
In addition to filing your DNR order with your medical records, you might also want to make sure others can quickly and definitively determine and honor your wishes. In most instances, EMTs arriving on the scene of a medical emergency will not have access to your medical records. Consider ordering an official DNR bracelet, necklace, or a watch band that can be on your person at all times. This will enable first responders to know exactly how to proceed.
Additionally, we recently learned of adults tattooing “DNR” on their wrists. Not sure that would be our personal choice or recommendation, but if it works for you, go for it! We have also heard that EMT’s sometimes check the refrigerator to see if the patient has any standing emergency health care instructions. So place your Do Not Resuscitate order in a small pretty envelop discretely labeled DNR and attached to the refrigerator with a simple clip magnet.