Topic: Do Not Resuscitate Order

DURABLE DO NOT RESUSCITATE ORDERS

By Milton Babirak, JD, LLM      |      Babirak Carr, PC     |     Sterling, VA

Cardiac or respiratory arrest can be an ever present concern for some people. If a patient is in cardiac or respiratory arrest, emergency medical services personnel and licensed health care providers may provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation in an attempt to save the patient’s life. Some elderly and frail patients, for various but important personal reasons, do not want to be resuscitated in these circumstances.

 

What is a Durable Do Not Resuscitate Order?

A Durable Do Not Resuscitate Order (“DDNR”) is a document that allows emergency medical services personnel and licensed health care providers to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation from a specified person in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. This document is commonly referred to as a DNR order. It is specifically authorized by the Virginia Health Care Decisions Act (“Act”), Va. Code Section 54.1-2981 et seq.

 

 

How Do You Get a DDNR?

 Many people think that you can get a DDNR by having your lawyer draft one for you or having your lawyer include appropriate language in your durable power of attorney for health care. In fact, the Act provides that only a physician for the patient can issue a DDNR. Further, the DDNR must be on the official form published by the Virginia Board of Health and may not be drafted by an attorney.

 

Also Consider a Health Care Advance Directive.

What if you do not have strong concerns about cardiopulmonary resuscitation but you do have concerns about your medical treatment in case you develop a terminal condition? In such a case, providing, withholding or withdrawing life prolonging procedures can be very important. The Act authorizes you to execute an advance directive that expresses your intention about providing, withholding or withdrawing life prolonging procedures in the event of a terminal condition. Frequently, this advance directive is included in a durable power of attorney for health care. Some people may not want life prolonging procedures; others do. It is your choice and your intentions can be set forth in such a directive.

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