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Understanding the DNR in Minnesota: A Guide to Decision Making

Understanding the DNR in Minnesota A Guide to Decision Making

The DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate order, is a legally binding document in Minnesota that tells healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a person's heart stops beating or they stop breathing. While the concept might sound straightforward, the nuances and intricacies surrounding this decision are vast. It's crucial to understand its implications thoroughly and ensure that it aligns with one's personal beliefs and values. If you're thinking of planning your future medical care or are concerned about the well-being of a loved one, it's essential to be knowledgeable.

The Importance of DNR

Respecting Patient's Wishes

A DNR is not just a piece of paper; it represents a person's deeply held beliefs about life, medical interventions, and the quality of life. By documenting their wishes in the form of a DNR, individuals in Minnesota can ensure that they receive the level of care they desire during their most vulnerable moments.

Emotional Well-being of Loved Ones

For families, the presence of a DNR can alleviate the emotional turmoil of making difficult decisions during moments of crisis. It gives them clarity on what their loved one wanted, eliminating doubts and potential conflicts among family members.

Clarity for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers in Minnesota benefit from the presence of a DNR because it provides clear directives about a patient's wishes. This clarity helps doctors, nurses, and emergency responders act quickly and in line with the individual's desired care level.

Implementing a DNR: The Process in Minnesota


The first step to having a DNR in place is documenting one's wishes. This documentation, often in the form of a written order, needs to be signed by both the individual and their physician. The details include specific medical conditions or scenarios where the DNR would be applicable.


After documentation, it's imperative to communicate this decision with loved ones and healthcare providers. This ensures that everyone involved in the person's care is aware of the DNR and respects the wishes laid out in the document.

Review and Update

Life circumstances and beliefs can change. As such, it's advisable to periodically review one's DNR. If any changes are necessary, the documentation process begins anew.

Misconceptions vs. Realities about DNR

Misconception Reality
DNR means giving up on life. DNR only specifies not to perform CPR; it doesn't mean refusing other forms of medical care or treatment.
DNR restricts access to palliative or comfort care. Patients with a DNR can still receive all forms of comfort care, pain management, and other treatments that improve the quality of life.
A DNR can't be changed once it's decided. A DNR can be revoked or changed at any time by the individual as long as they are mentally competent.
Family can easily override a DNR. Healthcare providers generally honor a legally documented DNR, even if family members disagree. However, clear communication is essential.

Key Takeaways:

  • DNR is specifically about not performing CPR and doesn't limit other care options, including palliative care.
  • Communication with family and loved ones is crucial to ensure everyone understands and respects the individual's wishes regarding a DNR.

Legal Considerations with DNR in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota has specific legal frameworks surrounding DNR orders. They recognize the rights of competent adults to refuse medical treatment, including CPR. However, it's essential to have the order well-documented and available, especially during emergencies.

For those considering a DNR or looking for guidance in navigating the legalities in Minnesota, an experienced attorney can provide invaluable insights. At Heritage Law Office, we offer guidance on DNR decisions, ensuring that your wishes are both respected and legally binding. If you're looking for more comprehensive advice on related topics, you can delve deeper into areas such as powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and living wills.

The Differentiators: DNR vs. Other Advance Directives

While DNR orders play a pivotal role in end-of-life care decisions, they're just one facet of a broader set of legal instruments known as advance directives. Understanding how a DNR fits into this larger framework can help individuals in Minnesota make well-informed decisions about their healthcare future.

Advance Healthcare Directive

An Advance Healthcare Directive outlines an individual's preferences for medical treatments they would like to receive, or avoid, if they become incapacitated and can't communicate their wishes. This directive often encompasses aspects beyond CPR, such as ventilation, feeding tubes, and other life-sustaining measures.

Living Will

A Living Will provides detailed instructions about end-of-life care. Unlike the DNR, which is specific about not performing CPR, a living will can encompass a broader range of treatments and scenarios.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A Power of Attorney for Healthcare designates another person, often referred to as an agent, to make medical decisions on one's behalf when they cannot do so. This authority includes enforcing a person's DNR wishes, but it can extend to other medical decisions as well.

Comparing End-of-Life Directives

Directive Description Specific to CPR? Revocable?
DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Specifies that CPR should not be performed if the person's heart stops or they cease breathing. Yes Yes
Living Will Provides instructions regarding a variety of medical treatments at the end of life, like ventilation or feeding tubes. No Yes
Advance Healthcare Directive Outlines medical treatment preferences in case of incapacitation. Can encompass many treatments and scenarios beyond just end-of-life care. No Yes
Power of Attorney for Healthcare Designates someone else to make medical decisions on one's behalf when they cannot. Includes enforcing DNR and other medical decisions. No Yes

Key Takeaways:

  • A DNR is specifically centered on decisions related to CPR, unlike other end-of-life directives.
  • All directives can be revoked, allowing individuals the flexibility to change their decisions as circumstances or feelings change.

The Conversations Surrounding DNR

Initiating the Talk

Discussing a DNR can be challenging. It's not just a conversation about medical choices but also about personal values, beliefs, and life experiences. Therefore, it's essential to approach the topic with sensitivity, openness, and a willingness to listen.

Involving Medical Professionals

Having a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, participate in these discussions can provide clarity. They can offer insights into the medical implications of a DNR and other related decisions, ensuring that everyone involved understands the practical aspects.

Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions

Many misconceptions surround DNRs. Some believe it means giving up on life or that it restricts access to palliative or comfort care. Addressing these concerns and clarifying the true meaning and implications of a DNR can make the decision-making process smoother.

Additional Resources and Support

Taking the time to educate oneself is crucial. Minnesota offers several resources to help individuals and their families understand DNRs and related decisions better:

  • State-specific guidelines and forms are available to ensure that your DNR aligns with Minnesota's legal requirements.

  • Support groups and counseling services can provide emotional support and guidance during the decision-making process.

  • Legal professionals, like those at Heritage Law Office, can help navigate the intricacies of DNR orders and related legal instruments, ensuring that every decision made is in the best interest of the individual and is legally sound.

Contact a DNR Decision-Making Attorney in Minnesota

The decisions surrounding a DNR are deeply personal and come with many considerations. While the legal framework in Minnesota provides clarity, navigating the emotional and practical aspects of such decisions requires knowledge and understanding. If you're considering a DNR or any related legal instruments, it's essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney familiar with Minnesota's regulations. Heritage Law Office offers remote, phone, and online appointments, ensuring you get the guidance you need, wherever you are. Contact us at 414-253-8500 or send us a message for a free consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What's the difference between a DNR and a Living Will?

A DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate order, is specifically focused on not performing CPR if a person's heart stops or they stop breathing. In contrast, a Living Will provides broader instructions regarding various medical treatments and scenarios, often encompassing aspects like ventilation, feeding tubes, and other life-sustaining measures.

2. Can a DNR be revoked or changed in Minnesota?

Yes, a DNR can be revoked or changed at any time by the individual. It's advisable to periodically review your DNR to ensure it still aligns with your wishes. If there are any changes, you'd typically need to go through the documentation process again.

3. Does having a DNR mean you won't receive any medical care?

No, having a DNR only means that CPR will not be administered if your heart stops or you stop breathing. All other medical treatments and palliative care measures can still be provided based on your wishes or the medical team's judgment.

4. Are DNR orders recognized across state lines?

DNR orders are state-specific. While a Minnesota DNR order might be recognized in another state, it's not guaranteed. If you move or spend a significant amount of time in another state, it's essential to consult with an attorney to ensure your wishes are legally protected.

5. Can family members override a DNR order?

Once a DNR order is in place and is legally documented, healthcare providers will typically honor the order, even if family members disagree. However, it's crucial to communicate your wishes to your loved ones to avoid confusion or conflicts during critical moments.


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