The last document you might ever need, known as a Do Not Resuscitate Order (“DNR or DNRO”), is a form or patient identification device developed by the Department of Health to identify people who do not wish to be resuscitated in the event of respiratory or cardiac arrest. It is not something that is done by a lawyer and should only be used in very specific circumstances. Everyone should NOT have one as part of their normal estate plan. A copy of the form can be obtained by downloading the form from the FloridaHealth.gov website.
Many times, clients have asked me if they could have a DNRO and I’ve given them a resounding NO. The reason why is because it’s not exactly what they thought it was. People confuse it with a living will, which is used to terminate life support when it’s no longer necessary in certain circumstances. However, a DNRO is a special type of document that was created by the Department of Health and it says that if you are in some type of respiratory or cardiac arrest, in those situations, DO NOT resuscitate me. The types of people that would want that document are those who wouldn’t have any medical benefit of being kept alive, expect that their quality of life would suffer, or that death is soon expected or unavoidable. It can be located on the FloridaHealth.gov website under form 1896 and has to be signed by your doctor.
In Florida, a DNR form can be revoked at any time either orally or in writing, by physical destruction, by failure to present it, or by orally expressing a contrary intent by the patient or the patient’s health care surrogate. In order to be legally valid, a DNR must be printed on yellow paper so it can be easily noticed and readily available by EMS, paramedics, or emergency room doctors. EMS and medical personnel are only required to honor the form if it is printed on yellow paper. A DNR is different than a living will in that it is very limited in its scope by only refusing emergency CPR or resuscitative measures. A living will on the other hand is much broader and addresses a variety of other end-of-life issues that require careful consideration under a variety of circumstances (eg terminal cancer, persistent vegitative state, etc).
Emergency medical professionals are trained to go to any lengths necessary to keep their patient alive. Unfortunately, these emergency life-saving procedures are often painful and intrusive. If you are young and in good health, it is likely that a DNR is not the option for you and the pain is worth enduring now for a lasting future. On the other hand, those that are considering a DNR are often near the end of their life and do not wish for it to be prolonged in a painful manner only to resume the dying process. Although no one has ever ultimately escaped death, it is important that every person plan for the circumstances where they know they’d like medical professionals to keep trying, and when it’s time to rest. Read more about Healthcare Advance Directives