Question: How can you assure elders and family that a DNR (do not resuscitate) order will be recognized and followed by EMT’s and ambulance services when 911 is called to the home? Do patient care protocols vary by State statutes?
Answer: I imagine that every state is different. In Massachusetts, the person who is appointed your Health Care Agent under a Health Care Proxy can make the DNR decision. You can also make it yourself if you are competent to do so. There is a form you can get to fill out from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs here, or any nursing facility or hospital. That form AND your Health Care Proxy should be in a place in your home as well as in your medical records where the ambulance service can get it. We too have had circumstances where these wishes have been ignored, and what I’ve described above is the process to enable the ambulance service to follow a DNR instruction. In my experience, it is still a problem because sometimes in the midst of an emergency, there is no one around to show the service the DNR, even if it is posted on the refrigerator. It is possible to place a laminated card in one’s wallet indicating where the DNR order is. Hope this helps.
Susana Lannik, Attorney at Law
Newton, Massachusetts 02458