What Color is Your DNR?

What Color is Your DNR?

Most people have heard of a ‘do-not-resuscitate’ order (DNRO).  But many people do not know the requirements for a DNR in the state of Florida.


Many states have their own requirements for DNRO’s.  If you have a Florida DNRO it may not be valid in the state in which you are visiting.  In that case, you would have to complete a DNRO form from that state.  Likewise, people visiting Florida from out of state MUST have a valid Florida DNRO.


In order to be valid in the state of Florida, the Department of Health Form #1896 must be completed by a patient who is competent or the patient’s representative signed by a licensed Florida physician and be on either the original canary yellow form or copied onto similar yellow-colored paper.  The form is not valid if it is on WHITE or any other color paper.  The form does not have to be witnessed or notarized.  Form #1896 is in both English and Spanish.  To access the form, click here:  http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/ems-system/_documents/dnro-updated-form-bw.pdf.


The completed, signed form on yellow paper should be kept in a memorable, easily accessible place such as on the refrigerator or at the head or foot of the patient’s bed so that it is easy to find in an emergency.


In many states including Florida, a “patient identification device” is equally valid to the DNRO form and can be presented to emergency medical services when they arrive.  Although it is called a device, it is actually just a much smaller version of the larger form.  In fact, it is the bottom portion of Form #1896 and can easily travel with the patient.  The “device” is a little bigger than a Medicare card.  It should be laminated and can be clipped to a key chain, clothing or the bed.


As a point of information, a DNRO contains directions for emergency medical personnel who might treat a patient outside a hospital situation if they are no longer breathing or their heart is not beating.  It tells the EMT’s/first responders that the patient does NOT want them to use cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), artificial breathing tubes, electric heart shocks, or other invasive emergency techniques.  If the patient is admitted to a hospital, the patient can get another DNRO that becomes part of his/her medical chart.  Without this guidance EMT’s/first responders who come to the aid of someone don’t know the person’s preferences for treatment and therefore, they do everything they can to keep them alive.  The same is true for emergency room staff.  The result can be extremely invasive procedures such as intubation, ventilation and CPR.


Make sure you and your family have the documents you need to state your wishes clearly, whether you want extreme measures or not – and make sure that those documents are readily available and don’t get forgotten in the confusion of an emergency.