Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

DNR Orders are usually issued with the consent of the patient or an authorized family member or friend. They are used for:

  • People with terminal illnesses
  • People with serious or disabling conditions that they are not expected to recover from (for example, multiple organ failure)
  • People who are elderly or very frail – and who would suffer greatly as a result of CPR.

Patients and family members are often asked to make difficult decisions about CPR and DNR orders.

You have the right to accept or refuse any treatment, including CPR. If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, an appointed family member or close friend can make these decisions for you.

A DNR order gives specific instructions to health-care providers. A physician writes the order at your request. This helps ensure that your wishes concerning CPR are followed in an emergency.

Understanding a DNR order

It is important to know that a DNR order covers only DPR and its related procedures.

A Patient with a DNR order may continue to receive other necessary treatments, such as dialysis and antibiotic therapy. He or she will also receive pain relief, food, water and other comfort care.

A DNR order is not valid unless it is written and signed by a physician.

It is issued with your consent. In most cases, a physician consults you before authorizing a DNR order. If you are unable to communicate, he or she may check your advance directives or ask a family member to make decisions for you.

Often it does not apply during surgery. During surgery, heart and breathing failure may be related to the procedure or anesthesia, not the person’s condition. In these cases, CPR is more likely to be successful. So a physician may temporarily suspend a DNR order during surgery.

It can be cancelled at any time. If you change your mind or your condition improves, you or an authorized family member or an authorized family member or friend may instruct the physician to cancel a DNR order. You can inform your health-care providers of your decision verbally or in writing.