Legal documents that allow you to indicate the medical treatments you would want to receive if you are not able to communicate for yourself are known as advance directives. This glossary includes some common medical terms that are often used in connection with advance directives. Click here for a glossary of general and legal terms for advance directives.
• Artificial Nutrition or hydration – This process allows the patient to receive food, water, or other nutrients even if he is not able to eat or drink normally. Artificial nutrition and hydration can be considered life-sustaining treatments.
– This is an examination of the body that is done after death. Autopsy may include surgical procedures to examine organs and other structures to determine the cause of death. In cases where a patient died outside of a hospital and not under the direct care of a doctor, some state laws require that an autopsy be performed before a death certificate can be issued.
• Brain Death
– This is the condition when the brain stops functioning. Most states include a designation of brain death as part of the definition of death.
• Comfort Care
– This type of care is provided to make a patient as comfortable as possible without providing actual treatment for illness or injury and without attempting to keep the patient alive. Comfort care includes bathing, repositioning, and keeping the lips moist.
• CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
– CPR is treatment that is given when the patient is not breathing or the heart has stopped beating. The purpose of CPR is to keep oxygen and blood moving in the body and to try to restart normal breathing and heartbeat. CPR may consist of mouth-to-mouth breathing or chest compressions. Electric shocks and drugs are also used to try to get the heart to start beating.