Words and Terms You Need to Know:
Advance Directive: A written document that tells what a person wants or does not want if in the
future he/she cannot make his/her wishes known about health care treatment.
Artificial Nutrition and Hydration: When food and water are given to a person through a tube.
Autopsy: An examination done on a dead body to find the cause of death.
Comfort Care: Care that helps to keep a person comfortable. Pain relief, bathing, turning,
keeping a person’s lips moist are types of comfort care.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): An attempt to try and restart a person’s breathing or
heartbeat. CPR may include pushing on the chest, putting a tube down the throat, and/or other
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Health Proxy: An advance directive that appoints someone to make health care decisions for a person if he/she cannot make or communicate his/her own decisions. That person may be a family member or a friend, but does not need to be a lawyer.The person appointed must follow your wishes if they are known. If they are not known, the person must make decisions based on what he/she thinks you would want.
End-Stage Condition: A chronic, irreversible condition caused by injury or illness that has
caused serious, permanent damage to the body. A person in an end-stage condition requires
others to provide most of his/her care.
Life-Sustaining Treatment: Any health care treatment that is used to keep a person from dying.
A breathing machine, CPR, dialysis, artificial nutrition and hydration are examples of life sustaining
treatment. Life sustaining treatments will not improve the person’s condition and will only prolong a
Living Will: An advance directive that tells what health care treatment a person does or does not
want if he/she is not able to make his/her wishes known.
Organ and Tissue Donation: When a person permits his/her organs (such as eyes or kidneys)
or other parts of the body (such as skin) to be removed after death to be transplanted for use by
Permanent Coma: When a person is unconscious with no hope of regaining consciousness even
with medical care. In a coma, a person is not awake or aware of surroundings.
Persistent Vegetative State: When a person has brain damage that makes him/her unaware of
pain or surroundings and has no hope of improvement, even with maximum medical treatment.
The eyes may be open and the body may move.
Terminal Condition: An advanced, irreversible condition caused by injury or illness that has no
cure and from which doctors expect the person to die, even with maximum medical treatment.