What Does “Do Not Resuscitate” Mean?

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


I had the privilege of facilitating a forum last week called Understanding Your Very Important Papers. One of the topics  we discussed was “Do Not Resuscitate”.  This is a very important paper filled out by the patient and his or her doctor. It addresses whether someone who is terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state wants the health care system to do everything in their power to keep them alive.  If you do not, you need to fill out a DNR form. This stands for “Do Not Resuscitate”.

 Jan Bucholz, Director of Stein Hospice, made a great comment when we were all struggling to understand this very complicated issue.  She said, “I wish we could change the name of DO NOT RESUSCITATE, because it implies that you aren’t doing something that you should”.  Then she said (I just love what she said) “Really,” D.N.R.”  should be called A.N.D.”  This stands for “Allow a Natural Death”.   

 DNRs are documents we all hope will never be needed.  But should that tragic, unexpected accident happen or a terminal diagnosis be given, do you know what you want for yourself?  If the answer is yes, my next question is: Have you put it in writing?