Do Not Resuscitate Order Law & Legal Definition


A do not resuscitate order is an advance directive that is to be followed when a person's heart or breathing stops and they are unable to communicate their wishes to refuse treatment that could allow them to die. Laws regarding do not resuscitate orders vary by state, so local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.

For example, in one state, a competent adult or the legally appointed advocate of an incompetent adult must sign the form and must be 18 years of age or older and be of sound mind. The document also must be signed by the individual's attending physician and two witnesses. If you have religious or other objections to care by a physician you can create a document that does not require a physician's signature. By law, your family, physicians and employees of your health care facility are not allowed to be witnesses for this form. The document accessible and in his or her possession. As an alternative, a person may wear a bracelet alerting emergency personnel to the Do Not Resuscitate Order.

A patient with a DNR Comfort Care-Arrest Order (DNR-CC-ARR) will receive all the appropriate medical treatment, including resuscitation, until the patient has a cardiac arrest (heart has stopped beating) or pulmonary arrest (patient has stopped breathing), at which point only comfort care will be provided. Under a DNR Comfort Care Order (DNR-CC), a patient rejects other resuscitative measures, such as drugs to correct abnormal heart rhythms. A DNR-CC order is restricted to providing only comfort care or other requested treatment at a point even before the heart or breathing stops. Comfort care involves keeping the patient comfortable with pain medication and providing bereavement care.