A common misconception that Tampa estate and elder law attorneys often hear is that a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is part of an estate plan. A DNR is actually a document from the hospital and is not part of an estate plan. However, there are elements of estate planning, such as the Health Care Agent Designation and the Living Will, which can affect DNRs.
A DNR order is used to inform emergency medical workers, physicians, and other health care professionals not to use specific methods to try to resuscitate you. These include CPR, defibrillators, and breathing tubes, along with other techniques that may be deemed invasive. It’s important to note that a DNR only comes into effect if your heart has stopped beating or if you have stopped breathing – it has no effect on artificial feeding tubes or other devices that are meant to keep you alive indefinitely.
It’s important to make your wishes about resuscitation known to your loved ones and to put them in writing in a Living Will so your designated Health Care Agent can carry out your wishes if you ever become incapacitated. These legal planning documents, in addition to a DNR, can help ensure that you receive the type of care that you want and that you will not leave your loved ones or health care professionals guessing about your health care wishes.
It’s also worth noting that if you have a pre-hospital DNR, which is a DNR that directly impacts any resuscitation efforts that may be taken by emergency workers outside of a hospital or nursing home setting, you should make sure to keep it where emergency workers can find it. This means in your wallet or purse, on your refrigerator, or near your nightstand.
DNRs are typically put into place when a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and are often put to use in nursing homes for elderly patients. A DNR does not have to be drafted by a Tampa estate and elder law attorney, but it is a good idea to consult with an experienced lawyer in order to get all the information necessary when considering whether or not to put a DNR in place. In addition, a Tampa estate planning attorney can help make sure that your designation documents reflect the wishes you express in your DNR.
If you have any questions about a DNR, or if you would like to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure your Living Will and Health Care Agent documents are up to date, please contact our Tampa estate and elder law firm at (813) 438-8503 to set up a consultation.