I agree with Kevin M. Dirksen and Neil S. Wenger about the need for a patient to discuss whether life-saving procedures should be performed if his or her heart stops. These discussions need to be followed quickly by signing the necessary legal statements.
As a registered nurse, I have seen the results when no guidance is available. I have also seen unwanted CPR performed when the information in a "do not resuscitate" form wasn't passed on properly. After the traumatic resuscitation, these patients were intubated, attached to a breathing machine and had numerous IV lines placed into their bodies. If they were conscious enough to pull at the tube in their throat or the IV lines, they had their arms restrained.
I encourage all families with members who are likely to need protection from unwanted CPR to discuss the issue, obtain the correct documents and make multiple copies that are easily accessible.