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Understanding Advanced Directives

Discussing advanced directives and wishes regarding resuscitation can be very difficult and emotional for patients and especially for close family members. Often a family member will have the authority of Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate for the patient, but still have great difficulty making the decision to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form.

Hospice patients are not required to have a DNR in place. It is important to note that if a patient/family does not elect to sign a DNR, then all lifesaving measures must proceed if the patient’s heart stops for any reason. This includes aggressive means of treatment including contacting paramedics to perform CPR and possible ventilation.

It is important to emphasize that quality of life is a crucial factor and that resuscitation measures take a toll on the body even when performed on a healthy and robust person.