Directive v. DNR: Which one is right for my situation?
The Directive to Physicians and the Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (OOH-DNR) are two distinct legal documents which apply in different circumstances to express certain wishes or desires about end-stage medical care, treatment, or resuscitation efforts.
What is a Directive to Physicians or Living Will?A directive to physicians is an expression of your wishes in the event you are diagnosed with an irreversible condition that will cause you to pass in a short time or with a coma or other persistent vegetative state such that you can not make decisions for yourself. In the Directive, you will designate a person to talk with your doctors to decide if this document applies. Then, if it does, you can choose to either be made comfortable in each case and that no life support be used. Or, you can choose to have all life support used in an attempt to keep you alive. You will initial next to your selection at the time execution.
The benefit of this document is that is a clear expression of your wish before the need arises and it avoids putting the decision to a family member that may be judged harshly for their decision at some later date. The decision becomes yours as expressed in this document.
What is a DNR?A DNR is an order to medical professionals not to resuscitate you. The Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (OOH-DNR) Order complies with "Health and Safety Code (HSC), Chapter 166 for use by qualified persons or their authorized representatives to direct health care professionals to forgo resuscitation attempts and to permit the person to have a natural death with peace and dignity. This Order does NOT affect the provision of other emergency care, including comfort care such as Hospice care to keep the patient as pain free as possible."
Which One is Right for Me or My Loved One?If your intent is to instruct emergency medical personnel while outside of the hospital that your preference is that they do not attempt CPR or other life saving techniques if they were to arrive at your home in an emergent medical situation then you will need to use the Out of Hospital DNR. This document is commonly executed after an irreversible condition has been diagnosed.
A Directive is more generally applicable and does not speak to the use of emergency care, only to the use of life support or machines to support your breathing and organ function. A directive can be executed by folks when they take on the task of estate planning such as making a will.
It is generally best to sit down and discuss your specific needs with an attorney. Many firms offer free initial consultations so that you can ask questions and be informed about the appropriate document for your needs.