What is a do-not-resuscitate-order (DNR order)?
Doctors and nurses in hospital and other medical facilities, including nursing homes, try to help all patients whose hearts have stopped or who have stopped breathing by administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), unless given other instructions.
A DNR order is the written instruction put in the patient's medical chart by the doctor directing the health care team not to take such measures in an attempt to prolong life. A person can indicate with either an advance directive form or by talking with their doctor that they do not want to have CPR if their heart stops or if they stop breathing.
When are DNR orders written?
DNR orders are written after the patient or a representative of the patient, such as a close family member or agent, has consulted with the patient's doctor. If there is consensus that the patient will probably not benefit from CPR and that life-sustaining procedures are not appropriate, the doctor writes the DNR order.
If there is any question about whether or not the patient is likely to benefit from CPR, consultation with the doctor should occur as early as possible. If at all possible, the discussion should be held before the patient is too ill to make or communicate their own decision.
Are DNR orders valid in all states?
DNR orders are accepted by doctors and hospitals in all states. If a doctor or medical facility will not comply with a DNR order, they must take all reasonable steps to arrange to transfer the patient to another doctor or medical facility willing to comply with the DNR order.