Palliative Care and Hospice Glossary

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Advance Care Planning: This is a process during which a person plans the medical care he would or would not want to receive if a sudden accident or illness leaves him unable to speak or make decisions. Decisions should be written down; an advance directive can be used to note these decisions.

Advance Directive: This written document outlines the medical care a person wishes to receive should he/she be unable to make those decisions. 

Aggressive Curative Care/Treatment: When every form of treatment or procedure that could help a person recover from an illness is used.

Artificial Nutrition and Hydration: This procedure delivers fluids and other nutrition to a person by some method other than the person swallowing it by mouth.


Bereavement: The time of being sad or mourning when a family member or friend dies.

Brain Dead: A patient that is determined to be brain dead is legally dead.

Brain Death: This occurs when there is complete and irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brain stem. A patient that is determined to be brain dead is legally dead.

Brain Stem: This part of the brain controls the heart rate and breathing.


Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): This emergency procedure is
used when a patient′s heart stops beating and involves chest compressions and possibly rescue breathing by blowing into the airway.

Caregiver: Any person who cares for the physical and emotional needs of a family member or friend.

Code (Full Code): This is medical status means that all available medical procedures and treatments are used to keep someone alive.

Code (No Code): When an order is in place that a person not be revived, or brought back to life, if his heart stops beating.

Coma: This is a complete loss of consciousness where a person is alive but cannot move or has no reaction to anyone or what happens around him.

Comfort Care: This type of care aims to relieve the symptoms of a disease or illness, keeping the patient comfortable until they die.

Critical Condition: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. A patient may also be unconscious.

Curative Treatment: The are procedures or medications given to cure a disease or illness.


DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order: These are written instructions signed by doctor stating that a patient should not be given any treatments, procedures or drugs to restart the heart once it stops. These orders are written after discussions between the doctor and the patient or a patient's family members.

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document states who you have given the authority to make medical decisions for you if you cannot, and it stays in effect when you become mentally incompetent.


End of Life Care: This is care given toward the end of life that is focused on comfort, respect for decisions, support for the family, and treatments to help a patient mentally and spiritually.

End of Life Planning: The is the process of planning for what a person wants to happen as he reaches the the end of life.


Full Code: If a patient's heart or lungs stop, all attempts to revive him will be made.


Guardian: A person who is legally appointed to make medical and financial decisions for an adult or child who is unable to make those decisions him/herself.


Health Care Agent: The person you chose, in advance, to make health care decisions for you when you cannot. The name of this person should be specified in a document usually called a medical power of attorney.

Hospice Care: This is a type of care provided for those who are given a terminal diagnosis of six months or less to live. The focus with hospice care is on comfort and quality of life for patients and their families. No curative treatments are given with hospice care.


Intubation: The process of inserting a tube into a patient′s lungs to help with breathing.


Life Support: The use of medical equipment or procedures to keep a person alive when some part(s) of his body is failing, such as a respirator or dialysis.

Living Will: A document that states a patient’s wishes for medical treatments and other medical care.


Medical Power of Attorney: Giving a specific person named in writing control to make all health care decisions for you when you cannot.

Medical Respirator/Ventilator: A machine designed to move air in and out of the lungs when a person is not able to do so on his own.


No Code: If a patient's heart or lungs stop, no attempt to revive the patient will be made.


Palliative Care: This type of care focuses on relieving the symptoms of a serious illness, helping with spiritual and emotional needs, and exploring the options for ongoing care. Palliative care is appropriate at any point in an illness and can be provided at the same time as curative treatment.

Power of Attorney: Giving a specific person named in writing control to make all decisions (medical, financial and legal) for you when you cannot.


To bring someone who is dead, close to death or unconscious back to life or consciousness.

Respite Care: This is temporary care provided in a hospital, nursing home or in-patient hospice facility that allows a patient’s caregiver some time to rest and or take time away to recharge.


Terminal Illness: This is an illness where a patient is given six months or less to live.


Ventilator: A machine that breathes for patients when they are not able to breathe on their own.


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Complete an Advance Directive to make your medical care wishes known when you cannot speak for yourself.

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