End of life decisions are a difficult and often awkward decision for people to make. However, an open discussion on the subject will provide immediate family members with the ability to make informed decisions when they need to.
A DNR order does not give a nursing home the right to withhold medical treatment. Similarly, if no DNR order is on file, a nursing home must provide CPR to a resident in cardiac arrest. With or without a DNR order in place, nursing home residents have a right to proper treatment that meets their daily living needs.
A ‘Do-Not-Resuscitate Order’ (most commonly referred to as a ‘DNR’ order) is a medical treatment order stating that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will not be attempted if your heart and/or breathing stops.
Before a DNR order may be entered into your medical record, either you or another person (your legal guardian, health care power of attorney or surrogate decision maker) must consent to the DNR order. This consent must be witnessed by two people who are 18 years or older. If a DNR order is entered into your medical record, appropriate medical treatment other than CPR will be given to you.
In addition to properly executing the legal document, it is also important to let your family, physicians, and your attorney aware of your decision to make one or more advance directives or a DNR order. If your family is aware of your advance directives / DNR orders, it will be easier for them to follow your wishes at a time when you may be unable to communicate them. If you cancel or change an advance directive or a DNR order in the future, remember to tell these same people about the change or cancellation.
All hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes must follow your advance directive decisions. It is entirely your decision. If a health-care facility, health-care professional or insurer objects to following your advance directive or DNR order then they must tell you or the individual responsible for making your health-care decisions. They must continue to provide care until you or your decision maker can transfer you to another health-care provider who will follow your advance directive or DNR order.