Composing an advance directive like a living will establishes how you want your doctors to treat you in certain circumstances. If you are in weak health or have a terminal disease, you might not want doctors or paramedics to resuscitate you if your lungs or heart stop working. However, your living will may not be enough to realize your wishes in this case.
The problem is that a living will may lack the authority to override the efforts of emergency responders to save your life. Forbes explains that filling out a Do Not Resuscitate form may be the best way to ensure health care providers carry out your wishes.
The limits of living wills
While a living will or other advance directive can do a lot to guide your future medical treatments, the law does not recognize them as binding legal forms when it comes to emergencies. If you were to collapse from a stopped heart, an EMT on the scene would try to resuscitate you even if your living will states that you would not want it. To stop paramedics from trying to revive you, you must have a DNR form ready.
How a DNR form works
A DNR form states that you do not want health care providers to attempt resuscitation on you in the event of a respiratory or cardiac arrest. State law governs how you should fill out a DNR form. In general, you can expect your doctor and a health care proxy to add their signatures on your form.
Be aware that a DNR form does not cut you off from other forms of treatment. If you have cancer and take chemotherapy treatments, a DNR will not cause doctors to deny you chemo.
Where to keep your DNR form
Keep in mind that paramedics need to see your DNR form to know not to attempt resuscitation on you. You should have your original form in a secured location. However, you can make as many copies as you need and give them to whoever you want. It is critical that you also place copies in locations where you usually go, like on a refrigerator in your kitchen, so that paramedics may see them if called to the scene.