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Glossary of terms

Get to know terminology associated with advance directives

We provide this glossary to help you better understand some of the terms you may encounter while completing your advance directive. We hope that by providing this information, you will be able to make informed decisions regarding the direction of your treatment.

Advance directive – A document in which a person states his or her choices for medical treatment or designates an individual who should make treatment choices if the person is unable to make decisions. With this document, a person can predetermine end-of-life decisions about his or her future in a legally detailed way.

Artificial nutrition and hydration – A procedure that delivers a mix of nutrients and fluids when you are unable to eat or drink. This is done through IV lines and feeding tubes and is not a natural process of eating food or drinking liquid.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – A medical procedure that often involves chest compressions, administration of drugs and electric shock, which is used to restore the heartbeat at the time of a cardiac arrest.

Do not resuscitate (DNR) – A medical order to refrain from cardiopulmonary resuscitation if your heart stops beating (cardiac arrest) or if you stop breathing (respiratory arrest). A DNR is not the same as a living will.

Healthcare power of attorney – An advance directive where the individual can select any person to make his or her medical decisions if he or she becomes temporarily or even permanently unable to make those decisions.

Life-sustaining treatment – A medical procedure administered to you to prolong life. These procedures are not expected to cure a terminal condition or make the individual better. Examples include a ventilator, kidney dialysis, or CPR.

Persistent vegetative state – A permanent coma or state of unconsciousness caused by injury, disease or illness. The patient is unaware of his or her surroundings and no reasonable expectation of recovery exists.

Terminal condition – An incurable condition where death will occur within a short time (in general, considered less than one year) and medical treatment will only prolong the dying process.

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If you still have questions or concerns after reviewing this section, contact the Novant Health hospital nearest you.