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Is There A Difference Between A DNR Order And ‘Do Not Treat Order’?

Difference Between A DNR Order And ‘Do Not Treat Order’I have been getting some really good questions from blog readers.  Some are very unique, most are questions that consistently arise in cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect.  I have added a new ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘ category to blog to hopefully provide an easy source to reference information.

I will be periodically be posting more questions and responses.  No full names will be used to protect the identity of blog readers.  Further, I encourage you to contact me to discuss your specific situation. Many questions may seem similar, but as cliche as it sounds, every case is really unique.



“What are the legal aspects if a nurse treats a DNR as a Do Not Treat document? If a person has a correctable problem and fails to treat it or notify the doctor, because they have a DNR status? I am doing a research paper and I need documentation for at least an answer to this question. Please Email me soon if you can help. Thank You, Amie”




As far as I am concerned, there really is no such thing as a ‘do not treat order’.  A ‘do not treat order’ amounts to physicians and nurses withholding medical treatment for a treatable medical condition. A DNR applies the use of artificial, life-prolonging medical treatment when a person has a terminal disease or is in the end-stage of life.

If a nurse fails to provide treatment or notify a doctor for a correctable problem because the patient has a DNR order in their chart, the facility is responsible for the fallout.  The nurse is clearly ignoring the intent of DNR orders.  (Because the nurses are employees of the nursing homes, the nursing home is responsible for the acts of their agents)

There have been situations recently that I am aware of in nursing homes where the facilities have been hit with huge verdicts / entered into large settlements for withholding medical treatment that resulted in death.  There was a recent Florida case where the nursing home settled a case for roughly 10 million when the staff let a woman bleed to death following a fall in the facility.  The nurses misinterpreted a DNR order as ‘do not treat’.

Hope this helps.  Good luck on the paper.  Let me know if you have further questions.

Jonathan Rosenfeld

Learn more about the laws applicable to Florida nursing homes here.
Click on the links for information on nursing homes in Miami, Orlando and Tampa

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