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Questions and Answers: Artificial Nutrition and Hydration and End of Life Decision Making

Glossary of Terms 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, and grief support after death.

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 if he or she is at the end of life and unable to communicate. It may also be called a "directive to physicians," "health care declaration," or "medical directive." The 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 health care proxy, durable power of attorney for health care, or appointment of a health care agent or surrogate. The person appointed may be called a health care agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact, or proxy.

Palliative Care
A comprehensive approach to treating serious illness that focuses on the physical, psychological, spiritual, and existential 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.

Withholding or Withdrawing Treatment
Forgoing life-sustaining measures or discontinuing them after they have been used for a certain period of time.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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