In 1991, Congress passed into law the Patient Self-Determination Act, which requires hospitals to respect an individual’s health care decisions. North Dakota and Minnesota are just two of the 49 states that permit an individual’s loved ones to make decisions in the case of incapacity. As a result, it is important for individuals interested in estate planning in North Dakota to understand the important role played by advanced medical directives. A Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a form that allows individuals to maintain control over end-of-life medical care by dictating what measures medical professionals are allowed to perform to treat an individual. While Minnesota law allows these forms, North Dakota is one of the few states in the country that prohibits these documents. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, however, play a much more important role in estate planning in North Dakota. This article will examine the role that Do Not Resuscitate orders play in both Minnesota and North Dakota.
Requirements of a DNR Order
To make sure that you have a valid Do Not Resuscitate order, you or your authorized legal representative is required to provide a signature. Your physician and a witness who is at least 18 years of age must also sign the document. Without these signatures, a DNR will not be considered valid.
The Difference Between DNRS and Health-Care Directives
Many individuals wonder what the difference is between DNRs and Living Wills. DNRs only involve emergency CPR while health-care directives encompass a variety of life-prolonging measures. DNRs also require a physician’s signature to become effective while health-care directives only require a person to sign the document in the presence of two witnesses. As a result, both DNRs and health-care directives serve important but distinct purposes.
Who Should Consider a Do Not Resuscitate Order
Medical professionals do whatever is necessary to keep a patient alive, which means that painful life-saving procedures are often performed. For many younger individuals who are in good health, this pain is outweighed by the desire for a longer life. These orders are more frequently chosen by people who do not have much longer to live. With a DNR in place, the medical staff is instructed to not revive a patient if the patient’s breathing or heart stops. As a result, medical staff will not perform chest compressions, electroshock, insertion of tubes to open a person’s airways, or mouth to mouth resuscitation. Patients’ DNRs, however, can permit them to continue to receive antibiotics, chemotherapy, dialysis, or other appropriate treatments.
Obtain the Assistance of a Seasoned Estate Planning Lawyer
If you are interested in advanced medical orders, an experienced estate planning attorney can prove to be particularly helpful. Our legal team has helped many individuals with the estate planning process and understands the various complicated areas involved in this area of law. Contact attorney Stephen Welle at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today to discuss your estate planning. Stephen Welle can be reached online or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.