Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Forms in Washington

You may have heard of a DNR form which stands for “Do Not Resuscitate”.  As the result of a law change in Washington in 1992, the state moved away from traditional DNR forms and switched to a Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.  Here is an explanation from the Washington State Department of Health:

The 1992 amendments to the Washington State Natural Death Act direct the Department of Health to: “adopt guidelines and protocols for how emergency medical personnel shall respond when summoned to the site of an injury or illness for the treatment of a person who has signed a written directive or durable power of attorney requesting that he or she not receive futile emergency medical treatment.” (see RCW 43.70.480)

The POLST Form is designed to describe the patient’s directions in the event of a “code” incident.  It summarizes certain wishes and is prepared by the patient and the doctor. The form is even designed to be printed on a certain shade of green paper so that emergency medical personnel can find it and implement the patient’s wishes.

The Washington State Medical Association provides a summary of the form, a picture of what it looks like and other information.  Because the form is completed by the patient and her doctor, we do not prepare them as part of an estate planning package but it is important to discuss the form with your doctor especially if you are more likely to be in that situation due to illness or other health issues.