Adults who are suffering from a terminal illness or chronic organ failure may wish to consider a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. Arizona law provides a simple procedure for creating a DNR that medical professionals can rely upon to withhold life-saving measures in an emergency.
A DNR is a form to be completed by an individual, stating the kinds of medical treatment they wish to be provided or withheld in designated circumstances. The Arizona statute requires that the form be printed with an orange background (hence, it is known as the “orange form”). The form can be letter-size or made into a card and carried in a wallet. The statute further states that an orange-colored wrist or ankle band can be created, signifying that the wearer has a DNR in place.
Unlike other states, Arizona does not require the signature of the person’s attending physician on a DNR form. Any licensed healthcare provider can sign the form if they acknowledge that they have advised the person that the withholding of cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts could result in death.
However, consulting with your personal physician is highly advisable, especially if you wish to create a DNR that specifies resuscitation measures that are to be administered or withheld when certain events occur. Examples are electrical heart stimulation in cases of cardiac arrest or intubation in cases where breathing has stopped. Some DNRs authorize resuscitation measures but not efforts to restart the heart. Others allow giving comfort care during a medical emergency but not taking extraordinary lifesaving measures. These latter types are often used by people who are living out their final days at a nursing home or assisted care facility.
A DNR order is intended for people with terminal illnesses or who otherwise are in drastically poor health and face imminent death. For people who simply are planning ahead to a time when they are unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves, an advance directive like a living will or durable power of attorney is the better method. An experienced Arizona estate planning attorney can assist you in deciding on and preparing the most appropriate advance directive to ensure that your healthcare preferences will be followed in cases of incapacity or disability. This can include a DNR provision to take effect if an illness or catastrophic injury leaves you in a persistent vegetative state.