Do Not Resuscitate: What You Need To Know

Do Not Resuscitate: What You Need To Know

If your loved one is near the end of her life or has an illness that will not improve, she can choose whether or not she wants cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an emergency. This is a decision that needs to be made and documented ahead of time. The necessary documentation is known as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

This can be an involved decision to make. Your loved one should reach out to her doctor and family members to discuss it.

Read on for answers to frequently asked questions regarding DNR orders.

Frequently Asked Questions About Do Not Resuscitate Orders

What is a Do Not Resuscitate order?

A DNR order instructs health care providers not to do CPR if a person’s breathing stops or if the heart stops beating. The DNR order is specific to CPR and does not instruct for any other treatments like medication.

If my loved one wants a DNR order how does she get it?

She must talk to her doctor who needs to enter the order in her medical record and issue a plastic bracelet with signed insert. This bracelet must be worn at all times. It identifies to paramedics and first responders that no resuscitation is to occur.

Why is DNR order necessary? I thought everything was taken care of with the Power of Attorney for Health Care.

The Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document designed to pass decision making authority to a person of her choice should your loved one become unable to make her own medical decisions. It may or may not state her intentions related to resuscitation and is generally kept safely in a file for reference when needed. It is important to realize paramedics are required by law to perform resuscitation once they have been called or an individual is in their care in an ambulance. For this reason, the DNR bracelet must be worn on the wrist at all times in order for the decision to be honored.

If my loved one has a medical emergency when she is wearing a DNR bracelet is it appropriate for 911 to be called?

Yes. If your loved one is wearing a DNR bracelet and experiences cardiac or pulmonary arrest, she will receive measures of comfort care such as oxygen, pain medication, and emotional support. She will not receive CPR or defibrillation.

Please note, the state of Wisconsin has legislation in place to support DNR orders, but laws vary from state to state. This is not meant to take the place of legal or medical advice. Consult your primary care physician for more information.