The Difference Between a DNR, a Living Will, and a Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Do Not Resuscitate Order (“DNR”) or Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Order (“DNAR”), is a medical document written for you, by your doctor, that indicates whether you want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”), in the event you go into cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. If you do not have a DNR and cannot make your own medical decisions, medical professionals will rely on your Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney to decide for you. (Source)

A Living Will (also called “health care directives,” or “directives to physicians”) is a document, written for you by your attorney, that tells your health care providers when you want them to stop life-sustaining medical treatment and let you die. It can take effect in only one of two situations: either if you are terminally ill death is imminent such that life-sustaining procedures would only prolong the process of dying, or if you are in a permanent unconscious condition. Life-sustaining procedures affected by a living will may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”), the use of a mechanical device such as a respirator to keep a person breathing.  Living wills may also direct health care providers as to whether to administer food or water artificially.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney (also called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions) is a document which allows you to name an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. This document is drafted by your attorney, and it is good practice to have a primary agent and a few back up agents named just in case the primary agent cannot or will not serve on your behalf. Each Healthcare Power of Attorney may be slightly different depending on who writes it, but generally the document allows your agent to make decisions regarding medical evaluations and treatment, pain relief, and long-term care or hospice.

Once executed, a copy of the Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney should be given to your health care provider and kept with your medical records. You should also keep a copy for your own records.  It is also a good idea to review your Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney with family members or friends who are likely to be looked to for assistance if your health fails so that they have a full understanding of your wishes.

You can cancel your Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney at any time by either physically destroying the document, with a written cancellation that is signed and dated or by orally telling your doctor that you wish to cancel your documents.

Contact us at 425-485-6600 for more information, or schedule an appointment here to have your new home documents evaluated.

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