When you request a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, your doctor may ask you whether or not you also want a Do Not Intubate (DNI) order. The two are separate because you can have trouble breathing before your heartbeat or breathing stops. If your breathing problems continue, your heart or lungs may go into full arrest. Intubation, however, may avert cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The Intubation Process
During intubation, the doctor inserts a flexible plastic tube through the nose or mouth into the trachea, or windpipe, to help with breathing. The tube is usually connected to a machine called a ventilator that pushes oxygen into your lungs.
Refusing Resuscitation vs. Refusing Intubation
Refusing resuscitation is not the same thing as refusing intubation. It is important for you and your loved ones or caregivers to understand the difference so you can make informed end-of-life decisions. Some DNR policies include intubation, while others treat the two orders as separate. If you do not want your life sustained by machines, it is important to address intubation as part of your overall DNR discussion.