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 treatment.

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 person’s dying.

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 another person.

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.