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Questions & Answers: Advance Directives and End of Life Decisions

Glossary continued...

Hospice Care
A program to deliver palliative care to individuals who are in the final stages of 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 as well as bereavement support to the family.

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 cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, dialysis, and certain other treatments.

Living Will
A type of advance directive in which an individual documents his or her wishes about future medical treatment should he or she be at the end of life and unable to communicate. It may also be called a "directive to physicians," "healthcare declaration," or "medical directive." ?e purpose of a living will is to guide family members and doctors in deciding how aggressively to use medical treatments to delay death.

Medical Power of Attorney
A document that allows an individual to appoint someone else to make decisions about his or her medical care if he or she is unable to communicate. It may also be called a healthcare proxy, medical power of attorney or appointment of a healthcare agent. ?e person appointed may be called a healthcare agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact, or proxy.

Palliative Care
A comprehensive approach to treating serious illness that focuses on the physical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs of the patient. Its goal is to achieve the best quality of life available to the patient by relieving suffering, controlling pain and symptoms, and enabling the patient to achieve maximum functional capacity. Respect for the patient's culture, beliefs, and values are an essential component. Palliative care is sometimes called comfort care.

Physician-Hastened Death
Sometimes referred to as Physician-Assisted Suicide
A physician supplies the means, usually a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, which a terminally ill individual can use to end his or her own life.

Surrogate Decision-Making Laws
Refers to laws that allow an individual or group of individuals to make decisions about medical treatments for a patient who has lost decision making capacity and did not prepare an advance directive. Some state advance directive laws also refer to the designated healthcare agent as the surrogate.

Surrogate Decision-Making Laws
Refers to laws that allow an individual or group of individuals to make decisions about medical treatments for a patient who has lost decision making capacity and did not prepare an advance directive. Some state advance directive laws also refer to the designated healthcare agent as the surrogate.

Withholding or Withdrawing Treatment
Not beginning life-sustaining measures or stopping them after they have been used for a certain period of time.

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WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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