When Should Do Not Resuscitate Orders Be Written?

The topic is more important than you may think. It’s not a pleasant one, but it is worth discussing as we live longer and more medically-complex lives. Medical technology can keep us and those we love, alive longer. But what does this life look like to you? How does it affect yours and your family’s lifestyle? Your spirituality?  Your finances and financial legacy? We actually have the potential to influence and choose how we want to live the last weeks or days of our lives!

Do Not Resuscitate Law

In Michigan, we have the Do-Not-Resuscitate Procedure Act. This act informs health care professionals NOT to revive individuals who have signed a do-not-resuscitate order document.  It is for those individuals who do not want any special efforts made to prolong their life if their breathing or heart stops.  The document can be customized to include or exclude certain measures like chest compressions, use of certain drugs to help re-start the heart etc. and whether to include the use of breathing devices.  A competent adult can obtain and complete this order after discussing with his or her physician. The physician must also sign the order. People whose religion opposes medical treatment do not need a doctor’s signature.

The Do Not Resuscitate Form

The form/order should be placed in a prominent and visible place where one resides. Have discussions with family, friends, and caregivers and inform them about the signed do-not-resuscitate order; tell them where to find it. All advocates should carry a signed copy with them. Bracelets indicating specific wishes are also suggested.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where do I get the form? The forms are available at most hospices and online. Click here to see an example of one.

Can I be forced to sign a Do-Not-Resuscitate order? Absolutely not. No one may require it as a condition for care or treatment.

Can I change my mind after I sign it? Yes, it may be cancelled at any time by any means of communication possible.

Will my insurance coverage be affected if I  sign such an order? No, the law says that your insurance provider cannot change, stop, refuse to renew, or invoke a suicide exemption or exclusion.

Keep up to date!

Do-Not-Resuscitate orders have changed and may continue to change as our health care technology evolves. Such orders used to, or may still apply  in your state, only in health care facilities such as hospitals and rehabilitation/nursing homes. People were not covered outside of such facilities, such as those at home with terminal illness. Licensed health professionals were required to try and revive anyone who had no heart beat or sign of breathing. In our state, when an order is present or a bracelet is worn, emergency responders cannot start resuscitation.

Make your wishes known today. Have that challenging conversation with your loved ones. Live the way you want to live while you are here on earth. You and your Elder will have peace of mind that the last season of life will be as they wished.

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