Documents that give you the chance to document your health care wishes
in case at some point in the future you are unable to state your wishes
yourself are called medical advance directives. Two types of medical advance
directives are the Living Will and the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order).
Although they are both advance directives they each have a different job
The main job of the living will is to state whether you would or would
not like to be kept alive artificially. The living will is something that
you can decide to put in place yourself. The main job of the DNR is to
state that you do not wish to receive CPR. The DNR is a doctor’s
order and you can only put a DNR in place with the assistance of your doctor.
In Florida, the DNR on a special yellow form is the only advance directive
that EMS first responders can acknowledge as your wish not to receive
CPR. A living will on its own is not sufficient.
Sometimes people are a little nervous to put a living will in place due
to a concern that their desire not to be kept alive artificially may be
misinterpreted as a wish not to receive as much life saving treatment
as possible. Fortunately, this is an unnecessary concern. Before a living
will can speak for you, two doctors have to agree that you have reached
the point where all that can be done medically is to keep you alive artificially.
Up until that point, you are going to receive life saving treatment.
It is actually more likely that your health care surrogate (the person
you have designated to speak for you) will have to step up and remind
the doctors that you do have a living will and that you do wish for medical
treatment to be stopped at the appropriate time.
None of us like to think that there may be a time when we are unable to
communicate our medical treatment wishes, but the reality is that it can
happen and it can happen without warning. Do yourself and your family
a favor and put a living will, and if appropriate for your current medical
condition and wishes, a DNR, in place today.