There is a huge difference between a living will and a Do Not Resuscitate Order in Florida. As part of your estate and incapacity planning, you should have a durable power of attorney, designation of healthcare surrogate and a living will. These documents will prepare you and your family to take care of your legal and financial decisions. Our handout, Four Essential Estate Planning Documents, can help you clarify these documents.
Your living will is the written statement of your end-of-life wishes. It says that if you are in an end-stage condition, a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state, you would not want certain life-prolonging procedures. Life-prolonging procedures can include withholding life support such as tube feeding, ventilation, surgery, dialysis, pacemakers and more. Chief among these procedures is whether you would want to be resuscitated if you were sick and close to the end of your life. Thus, your living will is the written statement that would say that you would want a Do Not Resuscitate Order.
The Do Not Resuscitate Order, on the other hand, is a physician's order for medical providers to not provide CPR to you. This Florida form is always on yellow paper so that it can be easily identified by everyone. Your physician signs this document and is typically not provided from your attorney. If you have a DNRO and are home, you would typically hang it on your refrigerator as EMS responders are trained to look for this paperwork.
In looking at CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), it is important to remember how traumatic this is on the body. CPR often means broken ribs, internal bleeding and immediate placement on a ventilator afterward. CPR is also very ineffective in actually helping you live longer. Statistics show that a healthy person has a less than 15% chance of full recovery after receiving CPR while an older person with multiple health issues has a less than 2% chance of recovery from CPR. Thus, having a DNRO would be very, very important to allow you to pass away quickly without the trauma of CPR.
If your loved one is experiencing end of life issues, our elder care navigation team can help advocate to make sure your loved one is taken care of and their wishes followed.