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What is a DNR order?

A DNR order is something you may want to consider when doing your estate planning, making medical decisions for your future and granting someone a medical power of attorney. It is a do-not-resuscitate order, governing the type of medical treatment you'd get in an emergency.

All that the DNR order controls is whether or not the medical team will use CPR to bring you back if you stop breathing. It won't give them instructions about pain medications they should or should not give you or what other treatments can be used.

That doesn't mean you can't specify those decisions in other legal documents. You can, but they won't be part of the DNR.

One thing that is important to note, though, is that medical CPR is slightly different than what many people assume. They think of simple breathing assistance, often called mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, with chest compressions. This could be part of the process, but hospitals may also use:

-- A breathing tube that can be pressed into place to open up a clogged airway.

-- An electric shock that will jolt your heart and restart it.

-- Various medications that are aimed at getting you breathing and getting your heart pumping again.

Some people want this treatment, while others believe that, should they reach that point, they'd rather just let nature take its course. This isn't to say that one way is right or wrong; it's simply important to understand all of your options. The right choice is different for everyone, but you should consider all legal possibilities when doing end-of-life planning.

Source: MedlinePlus, "Do-not-resuscitate order," accessed March 29, 2017

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