DNR stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is a medical order that tells health care providers and emergency medical personnel to not try to restart the patient’s heart using CPR if the patient stops breathing. The DNR order is only about CPR, and has nothing to do with other medical procedures or treatments. CPR treatments can include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, electric shocks meant to restart the heart, medicines intended to restart the heart, and breathing tubes that open up the airway.
Without a DNR order in place, emergency medical personnel must try to resuscitate you if you are not breathing. It’s a requirement of their jobs unless they have a signed advanced medical directive saying not to try.
If you have a terminal illness, you may decide that you do not want someone to prolong your life by trying to restart your heart once it has stopped. This is a hard decision to make, so it’s important to think carefully about it first. Talking to your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of making a DNR order might help.
If you have a DNR order in place, and later you change your mind, you can have it removed.
The most common type of DNR form is used in the hospital. If the patient’s heart stops beating in the hospital, it lets the staff know not to try to restart it. The second type is sometimes called a pre-hospital DNR. It can be used outside the hospital by emergency responders or the staff in an assisted living center.
If you want to create a DNR order, tell your doctor. Your doctor must either follow your wishes or transfer you to another doctor who will create the DNR order for you. The doctor fills out the order and puts it in your medical record. If you are not in the hospital, your doctor can get you a card or bracelet to let others know your wishes.
My Living Wishes can help you plan for your end-of-life needs and make sure your DNR order is included in your advance directive. Contact us to begin planning for your end-of-life.