Understanding DNR Orders

As long as you are mentally competent, it is your right to choose whether you accept or refuse the medical treatment recommended to you by your doctors and other medical professionals. You have the liberty to turn down any care, whether it’s lifesaving treatment because you’ve decided to allow a deadly illness to run its course, or getting blood drawn because you don’t like needles. Your right to accept or refuse medical treatment is guaranteed by U.S. law and is included in the American Hospital Association Patient’s Bill of Rights. If you are mentally competent, you are protected from having care forced upon you by healthcare providers.

However, things are different if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. In this case, it would be assumed that you would want life-saving action to be taken if you were in danger. That is, unless you have a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR). A DNR will prevent medical staff from performing CPR on you in this type of situation.

Typically, a DNR order will put into writing that you do not want to undergo any procedure that has the intention to restore blood circulation and heartbeat in the event of a cardiac arrest. This would include procedures such as CPR, intubation (connecting you to a machine that fills your lungs for you), or electric shocks to restart your heart.

To establish a legally binding DNR, you can request it inside a hospital. It can also be established by a doctor if you have a Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive that clearly states your wishes regarding resuscitation. 

DNR orders are sometimes confused with Advance Health Care Directives. Both are documents that allow you the chance to express your wishes regarding medical procedures that you would like to accept or reject in advance in case you become incapacitated later. A DNR order can be a part of an Advance Health Care Directive. However, one can also exist when there is not an Advance Health Care Directive in place.

If you have questions about these documents or want to discuss how you can ensure that your wishes will be respected in case of a medical emergency in the future, the ElDeiry & ElDeiry team is here to help. Our experienced estate planning attorneys have extensive experience handling these matters. Give us a call at (954) 670-2800 to discuss your options.

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