Boris Veysman wrote an interesting article on Do Not Resuscitate orders from a Physician’s viewpoint that was published in the Washington Post. A physician or nurse practitioner must sign a DNR order. Maryland Emergency Medical Services explains the effect of the order and you can download a form from their website. Do Not Resuscitate Orders are different from medical powers of attorney, living wills, which are often combined in one document called an Advance Directive. An Advance Directive is available from the Maryland Attorney General’s site. There is also an Advance Directive specifically written for Mental Health. An Estate Planning attorney should be able to assist you in preparing these documents.
As an attorney, my job is to educate clients on all the options available so they can make their wishes known to their family. The key to this process is a family discussion on difficult issues. In Veyman’s article, the family lost their will to fight before the patient did. You have to wonder if the patient had truly made his desires known to his family. I cannot stress the importance of advance discussions so your wishes will be followed. I was recently quoted in a Financial Planning Association’s article on “Making your Estate Plan Disaster Proof” on the importance of the estate planning process. Sitting down with your family and discussing your values and choices is a key part of that process. Not only do you ensure that your wishes are follow, your leadership provides a positive example for your family to follow.