A do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) is a legally binding medical order created by a physician at a patient’s request. DNRs are included in patients’ medical records and require the approval and signature of both physicians and patients. DNRs instruct health care workers and emergency medical personnel to avoid cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient stops breathing or if the patient’s heart is no longer beating. A DNR relates only to CPR and does not involve other treatments, such as medications or nutritional therapy. DNRs are generally included in living wills, and their details are most often worked out at the time a patient is admitted to a hospital, nursing home, or hospice-care program.
Possible Side Effects of CPR
By and large, DNRs are written when individuals have a history of persistent or terminal illness such as chronic heart disease that has previously or could in the future require CPR, and the patient wishes not to be revived, believing that the procedure may not succeed and cause injury. This is an important point because even when patients are successfully revived, they can experience considerable harm as a result. For instance, since the chest is forcefully compressed during CPR to pump blood out of the heart, the procedure can cause broken ribs, punctured lungs, and perhaps damage to the heart. Also, after being revived, patients may suffer brain damage due to lack of blood flow to the brain until normal flow is re-established.
Resuscitation Survival Rates
Another factor to keep in mind when contemplating a DNR is the likelihood of surviving CPR. Statistics show that the survival rate is generally 6% to 15% of hospitalized patients, 1% to 2% of nursing home residents, and 4% to 38% for people in non-health care environments. The rates are lowest for people with chronic illnesses, dementia or cancer. It’s also helpful to note that these individuals often experience some type of brain or heart damage.
When a DNR Might Be the Right Option
A DNR may be right for an individual with a terminal illness, such as advanced-stage cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or a progressing chronic ailment. Patients with poor prognoses have a reduced chance of survival and a higher possibility of heart, lung, and brain damage if they do live through a resuscitation effort.
If you would like further information about DNRs or have questions about including one in your living will, the attorneys of Bell & Shaw Law, LLC would love to help you. Call us today for a free consultation.