Understanding the Difference Between DNR and DNH Advance Directives
When we prepare an Advance Directive, we are saying to those we love how we prefer to be treated when we can no longer speak for ourselves. It’s a gift to those we leave behind to know what they should do to best meet our wishes. To fully understand how advanced directives works for you, it’s important to understand what they mean and how one or the other (or both) are used.
There are many terms that are bandied about when it comes to Advance Directives, but two of the most important are:
- Do Not Hospitalize (DNH) – Many people misinterpret this directive, but ‘do not hospitalize’ does not mean ‘do not treat’. Consider a senior with advanced dementia who develops a treatable infection. Having a DNH order does not mean the patient won’t receive treatment; it simply means she/he will not be sent to a hospital for treatment. Not hospitalizing your loved ones can mean not sending them into a series of confusion and setbacks due to their current condition.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) – Some people misunderstand this order as withholding life-saving medical treatment. A DNR is a legal order that expresses the wishes of the patient not to undergo CPR or advanced cardiac life support if their heart were to stop or if they were to stop breathing. This type of request is about allowing natural death.
There are many alternative names and abbreviations for both orders, and in some cases there are treatments that can and will be given despite the order. For example, patients who are DNR can still get chemotherapy, antibiotics, dialysis and other appropriate treatments.
At Adult Care Advisors, we understand that it can be hard to determine what legal orders should be in place and when.
Get in touch with our team of senior care advisors today to understand how advance directives work.