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EMS: Do Not Resuscitate Information

Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. ch. 154, Advance Directives) defines do not resuscitate (DNR) orders.

What is a DNR order

A DNR order is something a doctor writes. It tells EMS (Emergency Medical Services) practitioners and emergency medical responders not to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if your heart stops or you can’t breathe. If you don’t have a DNR order, the care team will try CPR.

In Wisconsin, a doctor can issue a DNR order for qualified patients. See Wis. Stat. § 154.17(4).

It’s most helpful to set up a DNR order before you have an emergency. DNR orders only focus on CPR. The purpose of the DNR order is to make sure that your wishes are honored, no matter what facility you go to in an emergency.

DNR bracelets

DNR bracelets help show that a person has a valid DNR order. Before the patient gets a bracelet, the attending health care provider counsels either:

  • The patient.
  • The patient’s legal guardian.
  • The health care agent for a patient who can’t respond.

The counseling session includes:

  • Written information about DNR procedures.
  • Documents that show qualifying medical conditions that warrant the DNR order. These are placed in the patient’s file.

When a patient has a DNR order, they get a bracelet. There are two types of bracelets, plastic and metal. Both have been used in Wisconsin since 1995. To get either type of bracelet, the attending health care provider must complete form, Emergency Care DNR Order, F-44763.

Plastic DNR bracelets

Sample of the Do Not Resuscitate bracelet from form F-44764.

The plastic DNR bracelet is free. It looks like a hospital identification band. You get a plastic DNR bracelet from the attending health care provider. The band has an official insert that includes:

  • The attending health care provider’s signature.
  • The attending health care provider’s printed name.
  • The attending health care provider’s work phone number.
  • The pre-printed logo of the State of Wisconsin.

View the DNR Bracelet Insert, F-44764 (PDF).

Note: Each facility uses its own vendor to supply the plastic bracelets. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) does not supply the bracelets.

Metal DNR bracelets

Do Not Resuscitate metal bracelet.

The metal DNR bracelet comes from StickyJ® Medical ID for a fee. DHS recommends this vendor for more permanent DNR bracelets.

View the Wisconsin DNR Bracelet Order Form (PDF).

The front of the bracelet shows:

  • The international medical symbol, the Staff of Aesculapius.
  • The phrase, “Wisconsin Do Not Resuscitate EMS.”

The back shows:

  • The patient’s first and last name.
  • Other health information if there is space.

Note: We still recognize bracelets from our old vendor, Medic Alert.

How to cancel a DNR order

The patient, patient’s guardian, or health care agent who signed the DNR form can revoke a DNR order. To do this, remove or ask someone to remove the DNR bracelet. You must let the attending health care provider know as soon as possible.

Questions? Contact DHS, Office of Preparedness and Emergency Health Care. Email or call 608-266-1568.

Last revised April 3, 2023