In North Carolina, a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is a medical order signed by a physician that alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. This means that if you have DNR in place, health care professionals will not try to revive you by using CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. The DNR is only a decision to withhold CPR, not the administration of other medical treatments such as a feeding tube, surgery, blood transfusions, and pain medicine. These latter medical treatments, as well as other life-prolonging measures, are typically addressed in a person’s living will, either on its own or as part of a health care power of attorney.
When is a DNR Necessary?
Unlike a living will and a health care power of attorney, a DNR is not a necessary component to everyone’s North Carolina estate plan. In fact, careful consideration should be given before having a DNR implemented. In most circumstances, a DNR is used only for the very elderly, the frail, and the critically ill for whom it wouldn't make sense to perform CPR. Additionally, not understanding the difference between a living will and a DNR may result in medical treatments being administered, or withheld, in a manner inconsistent with your desires.
It is advisable to discuss the option of a DNR with both your North Carolina estate planning attorney, who may be able to utilize other legal tools to better address your goals and objectives, and your physician, who would be the person who needs to prepare and sign the DNR order, to ensure that your health care decisions are planned effectively.
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