Do Not Resuscitate Order -- an advance directive that can be tricky to enact.

If your heart stops beating and if you stop breathing, health care providers have an obligation to try to restart your heartbeat and/or respiration. But sometimes people do not want such measures to be taken. For this reason, a Do Not Resuscitate order is an available option. Unless you indicate your wishes, medical providers might act in ways you would not want them to, even if they are trying to prolong your life.

A DNR order is one of three "advance directives" regarding your medical decision-making (the others are a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will).

DNR orders are used to request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed if your heart stops or if you stop breathing.

There are several reasons why you might choose to decline CPR. You may think that you may want to die as peacefully as possible without one or more resuscitations, or your religion may oppose certain medical treatments. 

Furthermore, you may believe that CPR can be a traumatic experience you may want to avoid. Others acknowledge that patients over 70 who receive CPR seldom regain health sufficient for them to leave the hospital. Thus, people have many reasons to create a DNR order.

Even if you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney and/or a Living Will, you should consider a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Both a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will take effect only in the event that you are unable to make medical care decisions for yourself. Therefore, if you are mentally competent at the moment your heart and breathing stop, those advance directives do not take effect, and without a DNR order your wishes might not be honored.

In fact, most people do not end up creating a Do Not Resuscitate order themselves. Unfortunately, most of the time a DNR is not contemplated until the patient is already unable to express wishes regarding resuscitation. As a result, the family usually ends up making the decision to assign a DNR order to the patient. If you do not want to leave this decision to others, you may want to create your own DNR order.

In some hospitals, a DNR order also implies an order to not perform intubation (machine assisted respiration), although you may want to consider including a DNI (Do Not Intubate) clause in your DNR order.

Like other advance directives, a DNR order must be in writing. A DNR order should be signed by yourself and two adult witnesses, at least one of whom is not your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, or a presumptive heir

Your health care provider also has to sign the DNR order (unless you are creating the DNR order for religious reasons). You must also have previously discussed your health with your medical care provider before creating a DNR order.

Rules regarding obtaining and enacting a Do Not Resuscitate order vary widely from state to state.

In Michigan (my home state), for instance, under the Do Not Resuscitate Public Act 193 of 1996, you can only legally use the DNR order if your heart stops AND if you stop breathing. Furthermore, under Michigan law, you are required to keep a copy of the DNR order in a place other than a healthcare facility (though a copy of your DNR order will also be in your permanent medical record).

You can revoke a DNR order at any time, as long as you are mentally competent to do so.

If you live in Michigan and need experienced estate planning help, contact Michael Einheuser for a free consultation. Michael helps families in Bingham FarmsTroyFarmington HillsRochester HillsSouthfieldWest Bloomfield TownshipBloomfield Township, and the surrounding Michigan areas.

Schedule your Free Consultation today: (248) 398-4665.

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