Living Will vs. Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders: What do you need?

Posted by: The Attorneys at Wiley Lavender, P.C. on Thursday, April 16, 2020

Living Wills and Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders come into play when a person is permanently unconscious or has end-stage medical conditions. They are not the same thing, and you should know what you need. 

A Living Will is a legal document that is part of an Advance Health Care Directive. It expresses a person's wishes for health care and directions for when they become incompetent with an end-stage medical condition OR are permanently unconscious. Directions include how to handle life-sustaining treatment. If a person is competent, a Living Will has no impact. Similarly, if the medical condition is not end-stage and the person is not permanently unconscious, the Living Will cannot come into play. 

A DNR Order is a medical order issued by a patient’s attending physician if the patient has an end-stage medical condition or is permanently unconscious. It directs EMS providers to withhold CPR from the patient in the event of respiratory or cardiac arrest.  

Healthy adults should give thought to a Living Will.  This will ensure your healthcare directive wishes are followed. If you have already been diagnosed with an end-stage medical condition, both a Living Will and a DNR Order should be considered.

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