DNR Orders Explained

It is quite common to hear about do not resuscitate, or DNR, orders in television shows and movies. While they often play an important part on the screen, they may be a critical component of your advanced care directives in real life. In your life, a DNR could have a very real impact on what care you receive, so it is important to have a good understanding of what a DNR really means, why you might want one, and how to have one put in place. 

What is a DNR?

A DNR order is a document that provides instructions to healthcare providers that they are not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an emergency situation. Having a DNR in place does not mean that you will stop receiving all medical care. In fact, the majority of medical care you receive should continue as normal after you have a DNR in place. This would include receiving medicines, necessary tests, and more. 

A common misconception is that a DNR has to come from an attorney or the courts. The fact is, however, that a DNR is a physician’s order. Of course, it can also have many legal implications so it is not uncommon for an attorney to be involved in the process, especially if the decision is being made well in advance of a potential medical situation. 

Why Would You Want a DNR?

Since a DNR order will really only be relevant in the situation where your heart stops beating or you stop breathing, it is not something most people will need for routine care. Some situations where people often want a DNR is before a risky surgery, or as they near the end of their life. Having this type of order in place will help prevent the doctors from prolonging the process by working to revive the patient as their body is shutting down. This can be especially important if the patient is in a lot of pain that is difficult to manage. 

How Do You Obtain a DNR? 

If you or a loved one is in a situation where a DNR is desired, the fastest and easiest way to obtain one is to speak with the doctor who is providing your care. All hospitals will have a process in place where they can quickly get the relevant paperwork completed and in place. 

For those who are not in a situation where the DNR is needed right away, there are often alternative options that will provide directions tailored to your situation. Working with your doctor to have an advanced directive or other medical care orders in place will allow you much more control over what type of care you receive. If you have questions about a DNR or any type of medical advance directive, please do not hesitate to contact us. In addition, if you or a loved one had a DNR in place that was not honored by healthcare professionals, schedule a consultation to discuss your legal rights.

Luis E. Barreto