Do not resuscitate: What does it mean exactly?

“Do not resuscitate,” commonly known as a DNR or Do-Not-Resuscitate Order, means that you do not want medical personnel to revive you if your breathing or heartbeat stop as a result of a terminal illness or life-threatening injury. Unless other instructions are available, medical staff will try to help all patients who have stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating.

A Do-Not-Resuscitate Order is a legal document. It’s one kind of advance care directive in which you make your wishes known about end-of-life care ahead of time. It includes withholding CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), defibrillation to restart your heart and artificial ventilation to help you breathe.

Why Advance Care Directives are Important

Creating advance care directives gives you decision-making power about medical care before you’re facing a serious illness or injury. Equally important, it avoids any uncertainty for your family, friends and health care providers — and spares your loved ones from making decisions about your medical care if you’re not able to do so in the future.

Talking About End-of-Life Medical Care

While it certainly doesn’t make for light-hearted dinner conversation, it’s important to discuss your wishes for end-of-life medical care with your family, close friends and health care providers. Take time to carefully consider the kind of medical care you want — or don’t want — and the potential implications of choosing or refusing specific forms of care.

Creating advance care directives may be difficult, but the peace of mind you gain will make the time well worth it. If you have questions, talk to your doctor, attorney and other trusted professionals. They can help ease the process for you and your family.

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Do not resuscitate: What does it mean exactly?