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Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

How To Enforce A DNR

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To enforce a DNR directive:

  • Follow the law of your state when executing the DNR.
  • Confirm with your attending doctor that he or she is willing to comply with your DNR directive. 
    • If the answer is no, consider finding another doctor who will honor your wishes. 
    • In some states, if the doctor says no, he or she is obligated to help you find another doctor.
  • Put mechanisms in place so medical personnel who respond to a cardiopulmonary call will know not to administer CPR. For example, post a sign over your bed that says "DNR." 
  • If you are at home or in another non-medical setting, a practical method of enforcing a DNR is to instruct caregivers not to call emergency personnel if you stop breathing.
  • An extreme approach is to tattoo "DNR" on your chest.

In hospital

  • Execute a DNR using the hospital's form. It avoids questions whether the document is valid.
  • Be sure the DNR is included in your chart in a conspicuous manner.
  • Let each of your nurses know that you have signed a DNR and wish it to be honored. If you don't want to repeat yourself, ask a friend or other patient advocate to do it for you.
  • Put a sign on the wall above your bed stating that a DNR is in effect.

If you are getting care at home or are in another non-hospital setting

  • If you use a health care agency or hospice, execute your DNR using their form. If you change agencies or hospices, execute the new entity's form.
  • Keep a copy of the DNR handy. Let each caretaker know about your wishes and where the DNR is located.
  • Let each of your caretakers know your wishes. Consider asking that they not call 911. If 911 is inadvertently called, all other people who could be on the premises should know where the DNR is.
  • Post a notice that you have a DNR above your bed or in an area that emergency people will have to pass through in their way to you.

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