'Do Not Resuscitate' orders and your preferences

At your request, you're able to have a "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) order in your medical charts. There are a few restrictions, though. For example, if you have a disease that affects your mental state, you may not be able to sign legally binding documents.

All adult patients have a right to request a DNR in New York. You can request it in a written format or verbally. At least two witnesses have to be present at the time you sign the document. If you have a health care proxy, he or she may make a decision regarding your DNR if you are unable to do so yourself.

Why is it important to determine your DNR preferences earlier in life?

It's a good idea to talk to your family about your preferences early in your life. Do you want to be resuscitated? If you do, what are the times in which you'd want to be? Do you have a preference for when you'd like people to say enough is enough and let you go?

For some, resuscitation is important if there's a chance at a good quality of life following an injury. For example, someone who has a heart attack at 35 probably wants to be resuscitated. With treatment, that person could go on to live a long life. Comparably, someone who is 90 may not want to be resuscitated, since he or she has already lived a long life and is comfortable with the possibility of death at his or her age.

Having a DNR early on helps family members understand your wishes and uphold them if the time comes. Speak about major issues like this early and often to protect yourself.

Source: Your Glen Rose Tx, "What makes an in-hospital DNR valid," Sandra Reed, Feb. 12, 2018

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