Ask Annie!

By Annie Peace on September 5, 2013

Q: What is the difference between a DNR and a Living Will?

A: I guess it was time for a tough question this week!

A Living Will and a Do Not Resuscitate or DNR are both considered Advance Directives. Advance Directives are documents that provide important information on a person’s wishes in medical emergencies. These help emergency responders, nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals know, ahead of time, if a person does not wish to receive lifesaving or life prolonging procedures.

A standard Living Will states that a person does not want to receive any life prolonging procedures. For example, a person who is terminally ill may not want to be placed on a ventilator or feeding tube that prolongs their dying process. A person may, however, have a lawyer draw up a Living Will in which they can be more specific about what they want and do not want in regards to prolonging death. 

For a Living Will to be considered legal, the person must have a terminal diagnosis by both their attending physician and another physician, it must be signed by the person or the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA-HC) and  a non-related witness over the age of 18 that has no financial interest in the person and it must be notarized.

A Do Not Resuscitate or DNR is a directive that tells healthcare professionals a person would not like to be resuscitated if their heart stops or they stops breathing. A DNR must be signed by the person it pertains to. It cannot be signed by the person’s DPOA-HC. In addition it must be signed by a witness and the person’s attending physician if he/she deems it medically appropriate.

There are many things to consider when deciding if Advance Directives are appropriate for you. I would encourage people to talk to their physicians along with families in regards to their medical wishes, especially as one ages. It would also be wise to go back and review any advanced directives and wishes as medical conditions change or every few years.

If you have any more questions in regards to Living Wills, DNRs and/or Advance Directives you can visit our Social Services Leader, Cece Russell, in the Sales offices or call her at 341-1253.

Thank you for the question. Keep them coming!