What Is a DNR? What is a MOST?

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order allows a patient  (or their Health Care Agent on their behalf) to refuse cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempts if the patient stops breathing or the patient’s heart stops. A DNR must be obtained from a physician and is written on a special form. It is important to understand that a DNR only applies to the decision to withhold CPR and does not apply to other life-sustaining treatments. In North Carolina, this form is color-coded (large red text on bright yellow-orange paper) and should be shared with all of the patient’s health care providers and posted prominently in the patient’s place of residence, such as on the refrigerator, for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In the absence of a DNR signed by a physician, if EMS is called, they will be legally obligated to perform CPR if the patient has stopped breathing or if the patient's heart has stopped.

Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST)

A Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) allows a patient (or their Health Care Agent on their behalf) to set forth his or her health care and end-of-life care instructions when faced with a life-threatening medical condition. A MOST must be obtained from a physician and is written on a special form. In North Carolina, the MOST form is color-coded (bright pink paper) and should be shared with all of the patient’s health care providers and posted prominently in the patient’s place of residence. A MOST form generally provides guidance regarding whether the following treatments should or should not be administered:

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR);
  • General instructions regarding scope of medical treatment and whether it should include use of mechanical breathing, intubation, and similar;
  • Antibiotics;
  • Artificial Nutrition; and
  • Artificial Hydration.

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Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning