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Initial client conversations typically involve a discussion about the ins and outs of an Advance Medical Directive and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.  A common question arising during these talks revolves around “DNRs” or “Do Not Resuscitate Orders.” Is this the same as a Healthcare Power of Attorney?  How are they different?  Do I need one?

To answer these, let’s first take a look at some of the terms and what these documents say.  “Resuscitation” is an attempt to restart your heart and breathing if either stops.  One example you’ve probably heard of is CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.  A “Do Not Resuscitate” order, therefore, is an instruction to medical personnel not to engage in these efforts on your behalf.  If you are found unresponsive, the DNR is an order NOT to revive you.

These orders vary from Advance Medical Directives in a few subtle but important ways.  First, DNRs are typically created by a doctor, whereas AMDs are drafted by attorneys.  Second, key language in the AMD states that life-prolonging procedures are not to be used when the patient (you) 1) can’t communicate medical wishes and 2) typically has either a terminal illness or is in a persistent vegetative state.  It’s an expression of your intent to avoid heroic measures if illness or injury would significant restrict your quality of life.  DNRs have no such caveat, they’re merely an instruction not to revive you.  So if you’re in reasonable health, a DNR is probably not something you want!  I know if I’m ever found non-responsive, I absolutely want medical staff to try to revive me.  If, however, I’m non-responsive due to such serious injury or terminal illness that reviving me would serve only to prolong the dying process, then that’s not something I want.  This distinction is important and definitely something to be sure and understand when creating your estate plan.  It’s a personal decision and something a conversation with your lawyer can help clarify.

If you have questions about the use of an Advance Medical Directive or Do Not Resuscitate Order, call Asurest any time to discuss.

Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.