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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A lot of hurdles to jump: Do Not Resuscitate Orders

A story by healthcare blogger Patricia Walling:

A man I knew wrote a Do Not Resuscitate ["DNR"] order in his 80s, before a hip replacement. That's a form you can fill out with a physician's signature to ensure that you are not resuscitated against your will after your heart or breathing stops. In the order, he included a lot of hurdles to jump before the plug could be pulled.

Years later, when his physical and mental health began to deteriorate rapidly in his early 90s, things became chaotic and stressful both for him and his children. At that point, he was dying of prostate cancer and just wanted them to let him die. Unfortunately, he had neglected the critical step of reviewing the DNR order every five years. The DNR order he had written in his 80s did not address many of the issues that became critically important in the final months of his life.

Recently a movement has begun to rename these forms "AND" (Allowing Natural Death) to emphasize through medical coding that the doctor is allowing death, rather than withholding care somehow. Having a DNR can be handy if you have been suffering from a disease for a long time, want to avoid the violence of CPR at death (which can often break ribs and other bones, especially in the elderly), or just want to be allowed to die at home rather than in a hospital. Numerous studies have found that end of life care tends to be prolonged needlessly, inflicting pain on the patient and imposing financial and emotional burdens on both patient and family, and a DNR/AND can help to alleviate those issues.

Patricia Walling's advice: Make sure to review it in detail with your doctor, appoint someone as a health care proxy, and don't forget that sometimes your wishes may change.


revita health center said...

I agree, it is always important to have this issue in order and up to date... it is a crucially important issue. Thanks for posting!

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