Electonic Medical Records
The California legislature has given state residents several ways to advise health care providers about their health care decisions. California residents can prepare a statutory form Advance Health Care Directive, which allow someone other than an adult patient being treated to make health care decisions for that patient even when the patient is disabled or incapacitated. Today I will discuss California's "Do Not Resuscitate" ("DNR") order form.
Unless provided with contrary written instructions, paramedics, emergency medical treatment and other medical providers usually will try to resuscitate a person whose heart or breathing has stopped. A person who does not want to be resuscitated in such circumstances can give written instructions to that effect on a DNR order form which complies with the requirements of the California Probate Code.
Usually persons who want DNR order forms are patients not likely to benefit from resuscitation efforts. These include persons who have severe kidney problems, who have cancer that has spread, who have serious infections like pneumonia that require hospi-talization, or who need substantial assistance with their daily care.
A person coming within these categories should discuss the possible benefits and detriments of resuscitation efforts and the appropriateness of a DNR order with his or her physician before becoming seriously ill to the point of being incapable of making an informed decision. Consultation with a physician is a requirement for a DNR order, since a DNR order must also be executed by the requesting person's physician and placed in his or her permanent medical record.
A patient executing a DNR order form normally would not receive the following types of treatments: cardiopulmonary resuscitation ("CPR"), which consists of mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compression, assisted breathing with mechanical devices, electric shocks to the heart, placement on life support machines such as a breathing