What To Understand About Do Not Resuscitate Orders

19 April 2023
 Categories: Law, Blog


Many people don't realize that certain issues that occur before death should be part of their estate plan. Estate plans can include end-of-life and medical planning documents. One such document is the "do not resuscitate" (or DNR) order. Read more about this important part of an estate plan below. 

What Is a DNR?

This document is not always known as a DNR. It may be part of an overall healthcare directive, a living will, or a stand-alone document. The main purpose of a DNR is to direct medical caregivers about the actions that should be taken should the patient need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For example, if a patient's heart stops beating or they stop breathing, a DNR order would prevent medical personnel from performing CPR or any other life-saving measures. 

This type of document should be carried with the person and a copy should be on file at nearby medical facilities. If you are using a DNR, make your loved ones aware of it and where they can find copies of it. These documents are considered legal and binding if they are properly executed. 

Benefits of a DNR Order in an Estate Plan

Respecting a patient's wishes: Some patients may not want to be resuscitated if their heart or breathing stops, either because they believe it will not be effective, or because they prefer to die a natural death. By having a DNR order in place, healthcare providers can respect a patient's wishes and avoid administering unwanted medical interventions.

Reducing unnecessary suffering: CPR can be a traumatic and painful experience for patients, especially if it is not successful. Patients who are seriously ill or at the end of life may already be experiencing pain or discomfort, and attempting to resuscitate them could make their suffering worse.

Focusing on comfort and quality of life: Instead of focusing on prolonging a patient's life through aggressive medical interventions, a DNR order allows healthcare providers to prioritize comfort care and quality of life for the patient. This can include providing palliative care to manage pain and other symptoms and helping the patient maintain their dignity and sense of control.

It's important to note that the decision to implement a DNR order should be based on the patient's medical condition, prognosis, and personal preferences. A DNR order should not be seen as a "giving up" on the patient, but rather to respect their wishes and provide appropriate care. To learn more, speak to an estate lawyer.