DNR and YOU

The park now has portable defibrillator. It is going to save someones life. But what about the DNR patient. DNR=Do Not Resuscitate. Please don’t think that I am in any way against having the defibrillator. I am 1000 percent in favor of it being in the clubhouse. But its arrival pushed me to research just what circumstances caused it to be used.

I spoke with RN guest of Timber Valley, an ER Doctor at Mercy hospital and attended the Demo session with the Sutherlin Fire Dept. All had extensive backgrounds with defibrillators. This is what I learned.

If a DNR member of TV were to collapse in the park, I would expect that their wishes be honored by the members of TV but that emergency services would be called.

With the emergency services it is almost universal that they use the defibrillator first and ask questions later. They will use it in the first few seconds of their arrival. Why? Because they have no way to tell a DNR patient from another. My ER doctor friend says it is true in the ER as well.

The first concern of emergency services is to save lives. Another is the fact that it is more economical to settle the few lawsuits that arise from use on a DNR than lawsuits that come from it not being used fast enough .

So what can we do to protect the wishes of a DNR patient?

Make your decision known. Tell your friend and neighbor you chose to be a DNR. Make sure you are on a list or picture array if there is one. Wear a DNR bracelet, necklace. Or even a tattoo. That does not guarantee anything, but it helps. We should fill out our medical directives and have copies filed with our doctors, hospital and those in charge of making decisions for us. Put a copy in a zip lock bag along with other pertinent information, mark the bag boldly DNR and leave on front of refrigerator. Here in TV we can say to emergency crews, “Your patient is Mildred McGillicutty, a DNR, and 90 yrs old” They may still proceed because they must guard against mistaken identities but one member of the crew will check and forward the information to the hospital. Non emergency staff will honor the medical directives on file and if necessary inform the emergency crew how to proceed.

I was pleased to learn that the defibrillator that TV has will not work on a heart with any pulse. I believe in this old song:

“I’m gonna live till I die,
I’m gonna laugh till I cry
Till my numbers up, I’m gonna fill my cup
And live, live, live until I die.”

That’s my plan.

Helaine

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