Determining and documenting your goals and wishes for specific treatments based on your medical condition and personal preferences. Clinical care is shaped by your choices, even if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. By anticipating emergencies, crisis decision-making is decreased.
Any statement made by a competent individual about preferences for future treatment if that person is unable to make decisions at the time. "Advance directive" is often used to describe the two forms which most states recognize as legally important - the living will and the health care proxy (or durable power of attorney).
Choosing not to have specific treatments that would have been expected to extend your life. This can be done by withholding one or more treatments, which is a choice not to start the life-sustaining treatment. It can also be done by withdrawing a treatment once it is started.
A method of giving another person legal power to make medical decisions when you no longer can. The written form used to appoint the proxy is often called a "durable power of attorney" for health care decision-making.
Legal document to determine what will be done with your money, property, and other possessions after you die. If you do not write a "will," the laws of the state will determine how your wealth is passed along to family members.
A document that indicates an individual's written instructions for treatment to be used when that individual becomes unable to express his or her wishes for health care treatment. Often it’s a preprinted form.
A sequence of events in which a physician hastens a patient's death by providing the necessary means (drugs) or information to enable someone to take his or her own life.
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Keywords: Advance care planning
|Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission.|