What is a DNR? Do I need one?

It is important to understand the difference between a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR), Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney.

In Ohio, a DNR gives individuals the opportunity to exercise their right to limit care received in emergency situations or special circumstances. This includes care given by emergency personnel when 911 is called.

Essentially, the DNR tells others that you do not wish to receive CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) when your heart stops functioning or you have stopped breathing.

CPR means:

  • Administration of chest compressions
  • Insertion of an artificial airway
  • Administration of resuscitative drugs
  • Defibrillation
  • Provision of respiratory assistance
  • Initiation of resuscitative IV line
  • Initiation of cardiac monitoring

While this procedure is a vital life-saving measure for someone who is generally healthy when they have a cardio pulmonary crisis, it actually can be physically harmful to someone who is frail from prolonged illness or old age. People in this circumstance often choose DNR.

It is important to know that care that eases pain and suffering will always be implemented regardless of a DNR order. Additional care will also be provided depending on the specific order that your doctor writes for you. It is best to discuss with your doctor the best option for you and your medical needs before your DNR order is written.

A DNR order must be written by a physician or nurse practitioner. It can be honored in many settings including – but not limited to – nursing facilities, residential care facilities, hospitals, outpatient care centers, homes and public places. For the DNR to be useful, it must be recognizable and available to healthcare workers.

Some choose to display the DNR in their homes and take it with them when they are away from home. A wallet card is another way to clarify your DNR status, but in Ohio, it must have the Ohio DNR logo on it to be valid.

Even if you are healthy now, you can state that you do not want CPR if you ever become terminally ill. Ensure your wishes are known and speak to your physician today.

Clearly state what emergency personnel can and cannot do for you in an emergency.