Do Not Resuscitate

This is a transcript of the video Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). This video is part of a five-part series that describes Advance Directives, which document your decisions about your medical care in the event that you cannot speak for yourself in the future.

Video: Do Not Resuscitate


Transcript: Do Not Resuscitate


The DNR or Do Not Resuscitate is perhaps the best known Advance Directive. The DNR is very specific.

A DNR says this and only this: if you are found without a pulse and respiration, medical staff won’t try to restart your heart or breathing with either chest compressions, shocks, other machines or tubes, or medications.

It’s important that you know that an order for DNR is a choice. It is not mandatory. It’s a choice that you should make when you are in a condition to do so.

If you are in a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living, a DNR is an agreement between you and the facility – if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing, it is your choice that nothing be done to resuscitate you.

If you do not have a DNR in place, your agent that you named in your Health Care Proxy will make the decision about resuscitation.

Rev. Dale Stanley, MDiv, BCC, Manager of Spiritual Care at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus:

For example, if I was hit with a car on the way home and I was in an accident, I would want my son, who is my Health Care Proxy, to be able to talk with the doctor, know what my wishes are, give me every chance for a reasonable amount of time. And at that point, he has the decision-making power, because I can't speak for myself, to do what he thinks what I would want. Not what he would want, but what I would want.

Christina Fineberg, Director of Social Work, McAuley Residence:

As healthcare professionals, it's important that we know what your medical wishes are, especially in an emergency situation, so that we know what kind of treatment you would want, what kind of treatment you wouldn't want, so that we're providing you with the best care possible, according to what your wishes are.  


And know that at anytime you may change your mind. You can cancel a DNR order whenever you want. Remember it is entirely up to you.

And, of course, because DNRs do determine what kind of life-saving technique can be used, Catholic Health does consider the Church's position on this.

Rev. Richard E. Zajac, Chaplain, Sisters of Charity Hospital:

I'm frequently called to a scene in which a decision has to be made by a family  in regards to their loved one. Should they move forward with the respirator? Or should they disconnect the respirator? It's a terrible struggle for a family to have to make that kind of decision.

What I always like to do when I'm called upon that scene, I say, "Look, I don't know your mom. I don't know your dad. I don't know your grandmother. I don't know your grandfather. But you do. And they're the ones who really are making this decision, not you. They are the ones who have given you the direction that you should follow. Would they want to have their life extended by a respirator? Would they want to live in this manner? I mean, the decision is really not yours. The decision is theirs."

Does the burden outweigh the benefit? If the burden outweighs the benefit, then whatever the health institution is asking you to do, becomes morally absent.

Many times, a family member will say, "We'll let God decide." And I always say, "Well, God doesn't turn off respirators. God has given us the ability to do that, and sometimes we have to help God out and turn off that respirator, if, indeed, it's only extending the dying process for your loved one rather than extending the living process."