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A Power of Attorney for Personal Care sets out who you would like to make care decisions for you when you are incapable of doing so on your own.  It also can set out your preferences with respect to end of life decisions.

The Health Care Consent Act, 1996 requires health professionals to follow the wishes of a capable person, with “wishes” including those set out in your Power of Attorney for Personal Care.  Examples of health care professionals include doctors and nurses. They do not include emergency responders such as paramedics and firefighters.  Emergency responders follow a different scheme – they follow the directions set out by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Although they may or may not follow the directions set out in the Power of Attorney for Personal Care, first responders will listen to a DNR (also known as a Do Not Resuscitate Confirmation Form).

Paragraph 1 of the DNR provides:

Do Not Resuscitate” means that the paramedic (according to scope of practice) or firefighter (according to skill level) will not initiate basic or advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) such as: 

  • Chest compression;
  • Defibrillation; 
  • Artificial ventilation; 
  • Insertion of an oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal airway; 
  • Endotracheal intubation; 
  • Transcutaneous pacing;
  • Advanced resuscitation drugs such as, but not limited to, vasopressors, antiarrhythmic agents and opioid antagonists.

When making decisions about your Will, Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care and working towards a complete estate plan, also consider whether you have specific wishes regarding the steps emergency responders should (or should not) take when faced with the need to resuscitate you. If it is your intention to provide the type of instructions set out above, it is important to recognize that there are specific formalities that must be followed when completing a DNR form, including that the form must be signed by a physician, registered nurse, registered nurse in the extended class or registered practical nurse.

Overall, it is important not to hesitate to ask questions when thinking about your end of life choices!

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