Michigan law does provide for the implementation of Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders, at MCLA §333.1051, et seq (which just means "and the following statutes").
The specific statute setting up a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order, or as nurses often refer to them, “DNR’s”, is MCLA §333.1053. Under this law, a person must be at least 18 years of age, and of sound mind. Such a person can establish a DNR for him/herself, or for another person, whom they are serving as an agent under a medical power of attorney.
Because of the grave consequences of such an order, Michigan law makes it difficult to establish a DNR, requiring that specific procedures be followed.
The law requires that the DNR order be signed by the following persons:
- The “declarant”, or person for whom the DNR order is being established (or his/her agent);
- The declarant’s attending physician;
- Two witnesses over the age of 18, at least one of whom is not the declarant’s spouse, parent, child, grandchild, sibling, or presumptive heir;
Michigan’s DNR law actually prohibits a witness from signing a DNR order as a witness, unless it appears to him/her that the declarant is of sound mind, and not subject to duress, fraud, or undue influence;
An identification bracelet may be placed on the declarant’s wrist, but this is not mandatory; and
A declarant or agent executing a DNR order shall maintain possession of the physical DNR order, and shall have it accessible within the declarant’s home, or other setting outside of a hospital.
Religion as a Factor
Recognizing the diversity of religious belief in Michigan, state law permits the establishment of a DNR, for persons whose church or religious denomination requires them to depend solely on prayer, under circumstances described in MCLA §333.1055. In such situations, involving persons who rely on prayer only for healing, the form required to be used for DNR orders can be found at MCLA §333.1056.
Doctor and Hospital Responsibilities
Naturally, a doctor or hospital will want to make sure that when there is a DNR order of any type, it is made a part of the patient’s medical record. As well, MCLA §333.1058 requires this to be done.
MCLA §333.1061 sets forth a list of health professionals who are required to check for vital signs, when arriving at a DNR declarant’s location outside of a hospital. This is regardless of whether such health professionals see, or know about a DNR order. If any of those health professionals determine that the declarant has no vital signs, they are prohibited from attempting to resuscitate the declarant, where:
- The declarant is wearing a bracelet, identifying that they have a DNR order in place; or
- If the health professional has actual notice of a DNR order being in place.
Criminal Liability Immunization
MCLA §333.1062 immunizes persons (e.g., doctors, nurses) and organizations (e.g., nursing homes, hospitals) from civil and criminal liability for withholding lifesaving measures from a person with a DNR order in place. MCLA §333.1063 immunizes such persons and organizations from civil/criminal liability, for trying to save the life of someone with a DNR order, where those persons/organizations are not actually aware of the DNR order.
Life Insurance Companies and DNRs - Prohibited Actions
MCLA §333.1065 prevents life insurers from cutting off life insurance to a person with a DNR order, charging them a higher premium, or changing the terms of an existing policy, for a person who establishes a DNR order. It also prevents life insurance companies from considering the terms of an existing policy to have been breached or modified, when the insured customer sets up a DNR order, and importantly, it prevents insurers from invoking suicide/intentional death exclusions for persons who have passed, after having followed DNR procedures properly.