Advance Care Planning Terms

Advance Care Planning Terms for you to know

Advance care planning (ACP) is a process of discussing and documenting an individual’s future healthcare preferences and decisions. ACP involves identifying and discussing medical treatments and interventions that an individual would want or not want in case they become unable to make decisions for themselves due to illness, injury, or cognitive impairment. This blog will define and explain some of the common  terms associated with advance care planning

  1. Advance Directive: An advance directive is a legal document that specifies an individual’s healthcare preferences, such as their choice of medical treatments, end-of-life care, and organ donation. Advance directives include living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare (DPAHC) also known as a health care proxy or medical power of attorney.
  1. Living Will: A living will is a document that outlines an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatments that they would want or not want to receive in case they become terminally ill or incapacitated. The document states the individual’s desire to refuse or withdraw medical treatment that may prolong their life, but not cure their condition. Gentreo’s health care proxy allows you the opportunity to express your medical wishes similar to what you can state in a living will.
  1. Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPAHC): A DPAHC is a legal document that appoints a healthcare agent to make healthcare decisions on an individual’s behalf in case they are unable to do so. The healthcare agent is usually a trusted family member or friend who is aware of the individual’s healthcare preferences and values.
  1. Code Status: Code status refers to an individual’s choice of medical interventions in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest or medical emergency. A code status can be full code, do not resuscitate (DNR), or comfort measures only (CMO). Full code means that an individual wants all life-saving measures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and intubation. DNR means that an individual does not want CPR but may want other medical interventions, such as medications or oxygen. CMO means that an individual wants only measures that provide comfort, such as pain relief or other palliative care. Do not hospitalize ( DNH) is another code option in which the patient or someone authorized on behalf of the patient orders that there be no hospitalization.  Do not intubate (DNI) is a code to prevent intubation of the patient.
  1. Palliative Care: Palliative care is a medical specialty that provides support and comfort to individuals with serious or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life, rather than curing the underlying illness.
  1. Hospice Care: Hospice care is a type of palliative care that is provided to individuals who have a life-limiting illness and are nearing the end of life. Hospice care focuses on providing comfort and support to the individual and their family, rather than on curing the illness.
  1. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): A DNR order is a medical order that instructs healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest. A DNR order can be included in an individual’s advance directive or medical record.
  1. Medical Power of Attorney: A medical power of attorney is a legal document that appoints a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on an individual’s behalf in case they are unable to do so. The medical power of attorney may also be called a healthcare proxy.
  1. Life-Sustaining Treatment: Life-sustaining treatment refers to medical interventions that support or maintain the vital functions of an individual’s body, such as breathing, circulation, and nutrition. Examples of life-sustaining treatment include mechanical ventilation, dialysis, and artificial nutrition and hydration.
  1. Capacity: Capacity refers to an individual’s ability to make decisions and understand the consequences of their decisions. A healthcare provider may assess an individual’s capacity to make decisions and document the assessment in the medical record.
  1. Surrogate Decision Maker: A surrogate decision maker is an individual who is appointed to make healthcare decisions on behalf of an individual who is unable to make decisions for themselves. This may occur if the individual is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to communicate their wishes due to illness or injury. The surrogate decision maker may be a family member, a close friend, or another trusted individual who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the patient. The surrogate decision maker’s role is to ensure that the patient’s wishes and values are respected and that their healthcare decisions align with the patient’s previously expressed wishes, including those outlined in an advance directive. The surrogate decision maker may also consult with healthcare professionals to ensure that the best possible care is provided to the patient.


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