Understanding Do Not Resuscitate Orders

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are a type of advance directive. They allow people to choose not to receive CPR or other specific life-saving treatments in the event that they stop breathing or if their heart stops beating. Usually a person will choose whether or not he or she wants a DNR for him or herself. However, if a person is unable to communicate but has an appointed guardian or medical power of attorney, this person or the patient’s next of kin may be able to sign a DNR on the patient’s behalf. An individual who cannot communicate and has no known guardian or next of kin may also have a DNR signed on his or her behalf by their physician, but this requires the signature of another physician, as well.

DNRs: The Implications

There are many reasons that someone may choose not to be resuscitated. Often the choice is related to a life-threatening disease, but it may also be a religious or spiritual decision, or a patient may feel that the risks of CPR make it an undesirable option. No matter the reason someone considers a DNR, it is important to know what restrictions it places on care. Those patients with valid DNRs will not receive:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Transcutaneous cardiac pacing
  • Defibrillation
  • Advanced airway management
  • Artificial ventilation

Any person who wishes to have a DNR can sign the form for it or simply request for the doctor to write the order. Although a valid DNR or a copy of a valid DNR will be accepted at any hospital, it is important to know that other documentation may be needed to prevent CPR and other life-saving measures from being used when a person is in another area being treated by medical professionals, such as in an ambulance or a nursing home. These situations may require another form known as an out-of-hospital DNR.

Contact Us

Choosing the kind of care you would like in the event that you are near death can be emotional and difficult for some people. It may benefit you to speak with an attorney who understands both the legal and personal implications of these decisions and who can advise you impartially. Contact the Houston living will lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., at 800-242-2151 to speak to someone about your options today.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
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