ISSUE #12
 
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Does "DNR" Mean "Do Not Treat"?

Patients and families should be aware that some hospitals follow policies, and some medical providers have certain approaches about treating patients with a different (less aggressive) standard of care, solely on the basis of having a "DNR" order. For example, hospitals may follow a policy (or medical providers may assume an approach) that DNR patients should not be admitted to an ICU, and should not receive more aggressive interventions or life-saving treatments. 

(For further information and some well-documented examples of research showing that hospitals and medical providers commonly follow policies and/or approaches that provide "DNR" patients with "less aggressive" standards of medical treatment, see the following articles here and here.)

In general, it is extremely important for patients and families considering a "DNR" order to discuss the entire matter in detail with a Rabbi who is very knowledgeable and a halachic authority in this field. There is a "Halachic Medical Directive" form that has been developed by Agudath Israel specifically for the state of Illinois, and is available online at this link. Following consultations with an expert Rabbi, patients should ensure that any DNR form or other advance medical directive form that they fill out is discussed comprehensively with their medical provider, and that their wishes regarding other aspects of medical care and treatment are well-understood and fully documented. 

HOWEVER, even after comprehensively completing such a form, hospitals may have their own policies and approaches about treating patients who have completed a DNR order. 

Therefore it is incumbent upon DNR patients and their families to vigilantly ask questions and fully understand the policies of the hospitals and medical providers who are responsible for the care of the patient, in order to find out if certain treatments are being withheld solely because of the patient's "DNR" status. 

Furthermore, for all such circumstances, patients and families should be sure to consult with an expert Rabbi who can provide guidance to ensure that the patient receives care in accordance with Jewish law. Call CMC, and we will connect you with a Rabbi who is an expert in this field.
 
 
For over two decades, CMC has been counseling patients and family members throughout the Chicago area concerning end-of-life issues such as those mentioned above. CMC connects patients and families with local Rabbonim who are expert in the end-of-life field, so that they may be reassured of having authoritative halachic answers that are tailored to their specific individual circumstances.

To request CMC guidance and/or support regarding an end-of-life issue or for any patient and/or family member struggling with illness, please call CMC or click this link to visit CMC's website.
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Rabbi Aron Wolf
Chicago Mitzvah Campaign
2939 W Touhy Ave
Chicago, IL 60645
1-866-MY RABBI (1-866-697-2224)