If someone does not want CPR to be used when they stop breathing or when their heart stops beating, they may have a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on file. If they’re in the hospital, their medical team should have access to this order, and doctors should know not to resuscitate the person if they pass away.
However, people are sometimes wary of using a DNR order. Maybe they don’t want to be resuscitated and kept on life support if they’re never going to regain consciousness or a high quality of life, for instance. But what if their breathing stops and medical professionals think they will make a full recovery? In a situation like that, they may want the doctors to use CPR. Are there any alternatives to a DNR order that offer more flexibility at the moment?
There are alternatives, the first of which is an advance directive that gives more detailed instructions to the medical team. It could simply explain the reasoning behind the DNR order or when it should apply. The advanced directive can also note other types of treatment that should or should not be used, such as life support.
Even this type of order may be too restrictive. As such, people can opt to use a medical power of attorney. With the power of attorney, they select an agent to act on their behalf. Rather than giving any instructions to the doctor, their agent just works with the medical team to make those crucial decisions when needed.
Planning for future medical events can be very complicated, but it is clear that there are many different options available. People need to be well aware of these options and the legal steps to take to put them in place.