Lisa Conway – Hometown News

Q:  Is a Living Will also a Do Not Resuscitate order?

A: While both address end-of-life wishes, a living will and a do not resuscitate order are two different documents, typically used in different settings.

Your living will reflects your wishes about life sustaining treatments in the event of a terminal illness, end stage condition or persistent vegetative state. It provides direction for physicians, should you be incapable of telling them. It is considered an essential estate-planning document and is usually prepared by an elder law attorney.

The Florida do not resuscitate order (DNR) states that the requester does not wish to be resuscitated in the event of respiratory or cardiac arrest. In order to be valid, the DNR form must be signed by both patient and physician and printed on yellow paper. The DNR should be kept in an easily found place such as the head/foot of a bed, or on the refrigerator. It should be readily available in the event of an emergency to ensure that the patient’s last wishes will be honored. When a DNR is present, emergency medical responders will not initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they find you in cardiopulmonary arrest. They will, however, administer comfort care (oxygen, hemorrhage control and pain management).

The yellow DNR order also remains valid in the emergency room. Once admitted to the hospital, however, the patient’s living will is placed on the chart. After two physicians agree that the patient is in a “persistent vegetative state,” has an “end stage condition” or a “terminal illness” and is unable to communicate, the terms of the living will be followed according to the person’s documented wishes.

One Senior Place provides regular seminars on living wills, DNR’s or other advance directives. No one can predict when a health crisis will occur. Put yourself in charge of your final moments by planning for these future events now.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.comLisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.