Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – End-of-Life and Hospice Care Glossary

What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a medical directive that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event that a patient’s heart stops beating or they stop breathing. This decision is typically made by a patient or their designated healthcare proxy and is intended to prevent unnecessary suffering and prolongation of life in cases where resuscitation would be futile or not in line with the patient’s wishes.

When is a DNR order considered?

A DNR order is considered in situations where a patient is facing a terminal illness, has a poor prognosis, or has expressed a desire to avoid aggressive life-saving measures. It is important for patients to discuss their wishes regarding resuscitation with their healthcare providers and loved ones to ensure that their preferences are respected in the event of a medical emergency.

Who can make decisions regarding a DNR order?

The decision to implement a DNR order can be made by the patient themselves if they are of sound mind and able to communicate their wishes. If a patient is unable to make decisions due to illness or incapacity, a designated healthcare proxy or legal guardian may make decisions on their behalf. It is important for patients to appoint a trusted individual to act as their healthcare proxy and advocate for their wishes regarding end-of-life care.

How is a DNR order communicated to healthcare providers?

Once a DNR order has been established, it is important for patients to communicate their wishes to their healthcare providers and ensure that the order is documented in their medical records. DNR orders are typically indicated by a brightly colored bracelet, necklace, or wallet card that alerts healthcare providers to the patient’s preferences in the event of a medical emergency. It is also important for patients to discuss their DNR status with their primary care physician and any specialists involved in their care to ensure that all healthcare providers are aware of their wishes.

What are the implications of a DNR order on end-of-life care?

A DNR order can have significant implications on a patient’s end-of-life care, as it may impact the type of treatment they receive in the event of a medical emergency. Patients with a DNR order in place may receive comfort-focused care rather than aggressive life-saving measures, allowing them to pass away peacefully and with dignity. It is important for patients to discuss their goals and preferences for end-of-life care with their healthcare providers and loved ones to ensure that their wishes are respected.

How can a DNR order be revoked or updated?

Patients have the right to revoke or update their DNR order at any time if their wishes regarding resuscitation change. It is important for patients to communicate any changes to their healthcare providers and ensure that their updated preferences are documented in their medical records. Patients should also discuss any changes to their DNR status with their healthcare proxy and loved ones to ensure that everyone is aware of their current wishes regarding end-of-life care. By staying informed and proactive about their medical directives, patients can ensure that their preferences are respected and honored throughout their healthcare journey.