Is it legal to get a DNR order if the person suffers from depression?

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Is it legal to get a DNR order if the person suffers from depression?

My Dad had a quadruple bypass and many strokes. Now he suffers from depression that he will not get treatment for. After his last mini stroke he got a DNR order. I don’t think he said anything to the doctor about the depression. I know they can revive if the situation is a suicide attempt. So is it legal for a doctor to sign one if he knows about the depression? Can the doctor revoke the order until my Dad gets treatment for the depression?

Asked on July 19, 2011 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, any sort of health care directive or instruction is valid only if executed while the person doing so is fully mentally competent; a lack of competence, therefore, may invalidate the directive, or, in this case, the DNR order. A significant question would be whether being "depressed"--or specifically, the type and level of depression experienced by your father, under his own unique circumstances--rendered him effectively or functionally incompetent for this purpose; the law does not require that a person not suffer from any diagnosable or treatable mental condition for him to execute a valid directive, but merely be "competent." From what you write, it would a good idea to discuss your father's situation in detail with an attorney specializing in health care law (not necessarily health insurance law; that's a different thing) or, possibly better yet, elder law. Good luck.


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