What is a DNR and how does it work? A DNR is a Do Not Resuscitate order. That is something that is in writing that says that should something occur and you can no longer sustain your own vital life functions like breathing, that life-sustaining efforts like CPR will not be taken. There are hospital DNRs and there are non-hospital DNRs. A hospital DNR is exactly what it sounds like. It is signed by you, your loved ones, your healthcare proxy, and your doctors at the hospital indicating that your health is in such a state that should you cease breathing or need other life sustaining treatment, that your choice is that that treatment not occur and that you’d be allowed to pass away naturally. Non-hospital DNR is one which is effective outside of the hospitals. So for instance, someone who has been hospitalized and then they go home on hospice in order to pass away at home. A non-hospital DNR is effective outside of the hospital atmosphere.

Is a DNR effective outside of the hospital? Well, it depends. It depends a lot on where you live. And it depends on what your documents say in writing. If you have an explicit non-hospital DNR document that you can present to medical professionals, at the time that you need it very frequently, that will be honored. However many times documents like living wills are not honored by say, EMS personnel. And the reason for that is, is several fold. First of all, these are often complicated legal documents of multiple pages and when somebody is in the job of saving lives, they don’t have a legal degree necessarily, nor do they have the time to sift through a document and figure out what it means. In many places first responders are often taught that by default they have to render a life saving aid like CPR or else their licenses could be in jeopardy. So in the absence of a doctor’s order or a very explicit DNR, they will provide things like CPR anyway. So that means it’s very important if your wish is to not be resuscitated, that you take the time and you get that document. Very frequently people also have bracelets that indicate that they are a DNR. So it’s very important that this is something, if it’s important to you, that you don’t put it off and that you it in writing and you make sure that you have the proper documents for where you live so that when the worst occurs, your wishes are honored. I’m Michelle Carter, your End of Life Coach answering your questions. If you’d like to learn more, you can find me at Michelle-Carter.com