A Do Not Resuscitate (or a DNR) is a document that instructs family, friends, medical professionals, emergency workers, etc. that you do not want to be resuscitated in the event that your heart stops or you stop breathing. This is sometimes called a “No Code” form.
Advanced directives normally don’t have a Do Not Resuscitate included in them as a matter of course. This is a legal document that you must ask for or that will be presented to you for signature when you are in a volatile medical situation.
The DNR tells the professionals not to perform CPR on you if the time comes. Whether you are in a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or in your own home, a DNR will be honored.
Most Do Not Resuscitate forms are written for patients in the hospital, terminally ill patients at home, or patients in a nursing home. If you do not have this form, CPR will be performed on you in the case you heart stops or you quite breathing. With the advances in medical devices you have a good chance of being revived but you may be in a worse medical state than before the resuscitation.
A DNR does not involve any other medical treatments. It only addresses what will be done if your heart stops or you quite breathing. It is a pre-signed and authorized form that will be in effect should this happen.
In order to get a legal DNR form you must speak to your doctor regarding the decision. He will determine if you are able to make this decision. In many states DNR’s must be signed by the physician. DNR forms vary from state to state, so be sure you get one that is valid in your state.
If you do not have a DNR, and you are unable to make that decision, your healthcare proxy can make the decision for you. If you do not have a healthcare proxy, two doctors can determine if CPR would not be an effective treatment. If your family is in disagreement regarding this decision, it will have to be mediated before it goes into effect.
If you change your mind about your Do Not Resuscitate you can remove the order by telling your doctors, nurses, and family.
It should be noted that a living will is not a substitute for a Do Not Resuscitate form.
The legality of DNR’s vary from country to country. Jordan, for instance, does not recognize DNR’s of any kind. Canada, United Kingdom and most other nations have different degrees of definitions as to what a DNR is and when it is legal. If you are traveling, keep that in mind.