What is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order? | My Care Directives - myCareDirectives.com

What is a....

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order

What is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order?

A Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order is a legal document that tells emergency responders and other healthcare providers to not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or you stop breathing.

In a DNR order, CPR refers to:

  • Chest compressions
  • Breathing tube insertion (called "intubation") and connecting you to a machine called a ventilator
  • Administration of controlled electric shocks to the heart (called "defibrillation")

Common reasons that people choose to get a DNR include:

  • Failing health. If someone is terminally ill or elderly and frail, they may wish to let nature take its course.
  • Those with severe health problems which probably won't respond to treatment sometimes choose to obtain a DNR. An example would be a person with terminal lung cancer.
  • Diminished quality of life. For those who are frail, CPR can be aggressive and result in injuries that cause additional pain. Examples of injuries from CPR include rib fractures, liver lacerations, and dental fractures.
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs. Some people are morally or ethically opposed to resuscitation.

Every state allows DNR orders but there are differences:

  • Some states use different terms, such as a do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) order; a no code order; or an allow natural death (AND) order.
  • In some states, only a physician can sign the order, while in others, a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician associate (PA) can sign it.
  • Some states require a notary signature or two witnesses to be present at signing.

Some states have incorporated the DNR form into their POLST form. If this is the case in your state, it is recommended that you complete just the POLST form