Understanding Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders

Do not resuscitate orders are often misunderstood, and the term DNR is often misused in day to day lanague. Sometimes the punchline of a joke, the reality is that life is precious, and every moment we spend with our loved ones is invaluable, and there comes a time when we must contemplate the quality of life and the decisions around it. One such decision is the creation of a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. Here’s what you need to know about DNRs in Arizona and the common circumstances when one might be put in place.

What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order?

A DNR order is a medical document that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a person’s breathing stops or if their heart stops beating. It’s a decision that typically reflects a person’s wishes to have a natural end to their life without aggressive medical interventions.

Common Circumstances for a DNR

1. Terminal Illnesses:

Individuals with terminal conditions may choose a DNR order to avoid prolonging the end stages of their illness, especially if CPR would not improve their quality of life or would lead to a state of living that is not desired.

2. Advanced Age:

Older adults, particularly those with frail health or multiple serious illnesses, might opt for a DNR order. They may feel that the potential risks and discomfort of CPR are not worth the unlikely chance of recovery.

3. Quality of Life Considerations:

For those with chronic diseases or in a permanent vegetative state, a DNR might be chosen because the likelihood of regaining a meaningful quality of life post-resuscitation is minimal.

4. Personal Beliefs:

Some may have personal or religious beliefs that guide them to refuse certain medical interventions. In such cases, a DNR is a way to ensure their beliefs are honored.

5. After Professional Consultation:

Often, a DNR is put in place after detailed discussions with healthcare providers about the benefits and burdens of CPR. This decision might be made in the context of an advanced care directive or during hospice care planning.

What Should You Do if You’re Considering a DNR?

If you or a loved one are considering a DNR order, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can provide information about what a DNR would mean in your specific medical situation.

It’s also vital to discuss your wishes with your family and loved ones. These conversations can be difficult, but they are crucial in making sure everyone understands and respects your healthcare preferences.

Remember to document your wishes. A DNR order needs to be on file with your healthcare provider and easily accessible in case of an emergency. It should also be part of your living will or advance healthcare directive.

Key Points About Arizona DNRs:

  • Arizona’s Unique Form: In Arizona, the DNR form must comply with state regulations, including a specific orange border making it easily identifiable by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.
  • Legal Requirements: The DNR must be signed by the individual or their legally authorized representative and by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner licensed in Arizona.
  • EMS Protocols: When presented with a valid Arizona DNR, EMS personnel are required to honor it. Without the DNR present, EMS will typically proceed with all necessary resuscitative efforts.
  • Accessibility: It’s recommended that you keep the original DNR document in a visible location within your home and inform family members, caregivers, and healthcare proxies of its location. Some individuals also choose to wear medical alert bracelets indicating they have a DNR.
  • Revocation: A DNR can be revoked at any time by the individual, either verbally or by destroying the document, regardless of their mental state or capacity at the time of revocation.

A DNR is a deeply personal decision that should be made after careful consideration and discussion with medical professionals and loved ones. It’s about maintaining your dignity and respecting your wishes at the most vulnerable time of life.

At Emily R. Taylor, Attorney, PLLC, we understand the sensitivity surrounding end-of-life decisions. We are here to provide guidance and support to individuals and families navigating these choices, ensuring that your values and desires are clearly articulated and respected.

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