Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to specify your choice for medical care if you are not able to communicate. This glossary contains terms that are commonly used in connection with advance directives. Click here for a glossary of medical terms.
• Advance Directive – These legal documents state what medical care or treatments a person wants or does not want if he is unable to communicate his wishes about health care at a future date. The documents may also name specific people to make health care or other decisions in the patient’s place.
– When used in advance directive documents, “capacity” refers to whether or not the patient is thinking clearly and has the ability to understand his medical condition and the possible risks and benefits of treatment options. A patient who has the capacity to make medical decisions does not need a health care agent to make decisions for him.
• DNI (Do Not Intubate) order
– This document instructs medical personnel not to intubate if the patient is having difficulty breathing. Intubation means a tube is inserted through the patient’s nose or mouth into the windpipe to allow clear access for air to travel into and out of the lungs.
• DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order
– This document instructs medical personnel not to perform CPR or try to get the heart to resume beating if breathing and heart beat stop.
• Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
– This group of trained medical personnel provide emergency care outside the hospital setting or other health care facilities. EMTs may be paramedics, first responders, or ambulance crew and may be working for the government or for a private company.
• Health care agent
– Based on the laws of the state, this person can be designated in a health care or medical power of attorney to act on behalf of a patient who is not able to think clearly or communicate for himself.