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DNR Orders: Understanding Do Not Resuscitate Orders

July 10, 2023

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a medical order that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient in the event of cardiac arrest. DNR orders are typically requested by patients or their families when the patient has a terminal illness or is otherwise nearing the end of their life.

While DNR orders may seem like a straightforward decision, they can be complex. It's essential for patients and their families to understand the implications of a DNR order and discuss it with their healthcare providers.

Here's what you need to know about DNR orders:

What is a DNR order?

A DNR order is a legal medical order that instructs healthcare providers not to perform CPR if a patient's heart stops beating. CPR involves chest compressions, artificial breathing, and sometimes administering medication to try and restart the heart.

Who decides if a DNR order is needed?

DNR orders can be requested by patients, family members, or healthcare providers. However, the final decision is made by the patient or their legal representative if the patient is unable to make decisions for themselves.

Why might someone request a DNR order?

Patients might request a DNR order if they have a terminal illness or if they are unlikely to survive CPR. For some patients, the potential harm of CPR outweighs the benefits, and they prefer to allow nature to take its course.

How is a DNR order documented?

DNR orders are typically documented in a patient's medical record and communicated to all healthcare providers involved in their care. Patients may also wear a DNR identification bracelet or necklace to alert emergency responders to their wishes.

What happens if a patient with a DNR order experiences a medical emergency?

If a patient with a DNR order experiences a medical emergency, healthcare providers will provide care to manage the patient's symptoms and pain but will not perform CPR. This may include administering oxygen or medication to relieve pain or anxiety.

What if a patient changes their mind about a DNR order?

Patients can change their minds about a DNR order at any time, and it's essential to communicate this decision to their healthcare providers. DNR orders can be revoked by the patient or their legal representative.

DNR orders can be a difficult decision for patients and their families, but it's crucial to have an open and honest conversation with healthcare providers to ensure that everyone understands the patient's wishes. By understanding DNR orders, patients can make informed decisions about their end-of-life care.

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