How To Create A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a legal order written in a hospital or in conjunction with a doctor that states that you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), or intubation if your heart or breathing should stop.

If you have a DNR, doctors, emergency medical service responders, and other health professionals are legally obligated to respect your wishes and may not attempt CPR, ACLS, or other life-saving techniques.

When a DNR goes into effect

A DNR only applies in situations where the patient’s heart or breathing has stopped. Even with a DNR, a patient may still receive medical treatments, medicines, surgeries, and procedures. 

How to create a DNR

A DNR must be completed with a doctor. Your doctor will provide you with your state’s DNR forms and will counter-sign the documents with you.

Creating a complete advance directive

Be aware that advance directives and living wills are not DNRs. Even if your advance directive or living will states that you wish not to be resuscitated, you need to fill out the specific DNR forms with your doctor. Without a proper DNR, doctors, emergency medical service responders, and other health professionals will attempt resuscitation if your heart or breathing stop.

To have a complete advance directive, you need a living will and a health care power of attorney (or health care proxy). Creating a DNR does not mean that your wishes in your living will can be ignored. You can have DNR and still receive life-support treatments.

How to store your DNR

It's important that medical professionals know that you've created DNR forms and do not wish to be resuscitated. In order to make sure that your caregivers and other medical professionals know that you've signed a DNR, you'll want to give a copy of the form to your doctor, to any medical specialists or health professionals who may be caring for you, and to your health care power of attorney. In addition, you'll want to make sure that a copy of your DNR form is prominently displayed in your home or on your body so that emergency medical responders know not to attempt resuscitation. Your doctor can help you get an official DNR bracelet, which you can wear at all times to let emergency medical responders and other health professionals know that you have signed a DNR.

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