Understanding Florida Do Not Resuscitate Orders and its Place in Estate Planning

Just about everyone has heard of do not resuscitate orders, also known as DNRs. These are important legal documents that can prevent unwanted medical intervention from being performed as you or a loved one is approaching the end of life. While most people have at least a general understanding of what DNRs are, it is important to ensure you have accurate information so you can decide when it is right to have one in place.

What is a DNR?

When someone has a DNR in place, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will receive no medical care if they need it. This is a common misconception, which often keeps people from having this type of document in place. Having a DNR in place typically prevents medical professionals from performing CPR or other related measures should a patient become unresponsive. This only applies in certain situations, including the following:

  • No Medical Benefit – The DNR only applies in situations where the doctors believe there would be no medical benefit to performing treatment.
  • Causes Harm – If the treatment would cause harm to the patient’s quality of life, it will not be given. There are times when someone who is near the end of their life may be able to be resuscitated, but it would only cause more suffering. This is when a DNR is used.
  • Near Death – If the doctors know that the patient will be dying in the very near future, a DNR allows them to let the patient pass peacefully rather than painfully prolonging their life for hours or days.

DNRs vs. Wills

Another common misconception is that it is possible to simply state your end of life decisions in a will and that a DNR is not needed. This, however, is not the case. A DNR is a document that is put in place for the hospital so they are aware of what treatment to provide a patient. While there are legal documents that can be applied as well, a DNR should be in place in addition to any other elder law or estate planning documents that are used.

Do You Need an Attorney?

An attorney is not required in order to have a DNR put in place. You can put one in place for yourself, which is common when having surgery or other procedures where you have time to plan ahead. In addition, family members can put them in place for a loved one if they have the required legal authority (powers of attorney). In those cases, it can be helpful to have an attorney available, but it is not strictly necessary. If you have any questions about a DNR or any other end of life documents, please contact ProActive Legal Care to discuss your situation.

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