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Health Care Agents: Appointing One and Being One

Benefits and Burdens continued...

However, a benefit from one point of view can be experienced as a burden from another and might be viewed differently by doctors, patients and families. For example, if a patient's heart stops, is resuscitated, and the heart starts beating again, this is a successful outcome from a medical point of view and a doctor may consider it a benefit. To the patient who is dying from a serious illness or disease, resuscitation may cause further injury and only contribute to the overall experience of suffering. This success, from the doctor's point of view, might actually be experienced as an additional burden by the patient. Discussions of the benefits and burdens of medical treatments should occur within the framework of the patient's overall condition and goals for care.

 

Capacity

The ability to understand the nature and consequences of health care decisions.

 

Cardiac Arrest

An event in which the heart stops beating, causing all body functions to shut down, including breathing.

 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

CPR is the medical treatment used by health care providers to restart the heart and/or restore the breathing of someone who suffers a cardiac or respiratory arrest. CPR involves a group of procedures that may include artificial respiration and intubation to support or restore breathing, and chest compression or the use of electric stimulation or medication to support or restore heart function.

 

Do-Not-Intubate (DNI) order

A physician's written instructions to health care providers not to intubate (see "intubation" below) a patient who is experiencing breathing difficulties.

 

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order

A physician's written instructions to health care providers not to perform CPR if a person experiences cardiac or respiratory arrest.

 

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

A group of governmental and private agencies that provide emergency care, usually to people outside of health care facilities; EMS personnel generally include paramedics, first responders and other ambulance crews.

 

Healthcare Agent

The person named in an advance directive or as permitted under state law to make health care decisions on behalf a person who is no longer able to make medical decisions.

 

Hospice Care

A program to deliver palliative care to individuals who are in the final states of a terminal illness. In addition to providing palliative care and personal support to the patient, hospice includes support for the patient's family while the patient is dying and grief support for up to one year after the patient's death.

 

Intubation

Refers to "endotracheal intubation" the insertion of a tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe) to create and maintain an open airway to assist breathing.

 

Life-Sustaining Treatment

Treatments (medical procedures) that replace or support an essential bodily function (may also be called life support treatments). Life-sustaining treatments include CPR, mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, dialysis, and other treatments.

 

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