CPR, DNR, POA?
The most basic of health care directives is the DNR – Do Not Resuscitate. This can be easily placed in your medical record by your physician. Simply said, if your heart stops or if you stop breathing, no one will perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
However, if you don’t wish to be resuscitated, you need to share that information. It’s probably best to have a medical bracelet stating your DNR order. In addition, you should share this information with your family and with any doctor you see in a critical or urgent situation.
Most people with a simple DNR are already elderly or critically ill. Typically, the DNR helps the patient avoid a long death or a brain dead state.
A living will is generally more thorough than the DNR. A living will should be completed with your estate planner. Generally, a living will includes a long list of medical conditions and medical treatments with instructions by you as to how to proceed with each.
Lastly, you can turn over any other decisions to a medical POA (power of attorney). Your doctors will seek direction from your medical POA if your DNR or living will does not address the details of your medical state. Your medical POA will bear the burden of making end-of-life decisions on your behalf.
Because medical treatments are continuously finding ways to extend our lives, even without comfort or consciousness, it’s important to make end-of-life decisions now. In addition, our litigious society is making physicians nervous to make the best decisions for us. Work with an estate lawyer to make those medical and legal decisions now while you can.