What is a DNR?

“DNR” is an acronym for “Do Not Resuscitate.”  You may also see the reference “OOH-DNR” which more fully identifies the document and its authority as an Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate.   Readers who have had loved ones experience hospice likely know this as the document that is placed on the refrigerator, as that is the well-known location for EMS personnel to find the prospective patient’s wishes with regard to life-saving measures.  An executed OOH-DNR communicates to such personnel that life-savings measures are not wanted.  Please note this does not eliminate pain-reduction measures or general treatment; only life-saving measures such as CPR, defib, and artificial ventilation among others.

An OOH-DNR cannot be prepared on the internet nor at an attorney’s office.  The acceptable form is promulgated by the Texas Department of State Health Services and must be signed not only by the maker (or surrogate, such as guardian), but also by a physician and two witnesses.  The link to obtain a DNR is:  https://www.dshs.texas.gov/emstraumasystems/dnr.shtm.

Each person’s decision with regard to a DNR are highly personal, yet it is common for geriatric physicians to recommend DNRs for their elderly patients.  In addition to the trauma of the incident, the types of interventions utilized as life-saving measures are especially taxing on an elderly person’s body.   A recent study on in-hospital cardiac arrest revealed the following: only about 18% of elderly persons end up leaving the hospital alive.  Of those, only about half are still alive one year later, with about half of these suffering from various degrees of neurological impairment resulting in nursing home or hospice care.

In addition to proper documentation, open dialogue with family members is the best way to ensure your wishes are met in preparation for these situations.  Elder law attorneys are a great resource for facilitation of these discussions and other helpful documentation, such as Medical Powers of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directives

This article is written by an attorney at Wyatt & Mirabella, PC. Always consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. To make an appointment today for a free consultation, please click here to contact us.