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Living Will Glossary

Advance directive - A written document by a competent adult expressing preferences and instructions about health care in the event the individual becomes incompetent or unable to communicate or loses decision-making abilities. Advance directives include living will directives, which set forth health care surrogate designations, and durable powers of attorney.

Artificial nutrition (food) and hydration (water & fluids) - Food, water or other fluids that are artificially administered.

Attorney-in-fact - The person named to serve under a durable power of attorney to make medical, financial or personal decisions for someone who is unable to do so.

Durable power of attorney - A document designating an attorney-in-fact to make medical, financial or personal decisions for someone who is unable to do so. The durable power of attorney may include specific instructions on any type of life-prolonging treatment, allowing the attorney-in-fact to ask for or to refuse medical treatment on the patient's behalf.

Health care surrogate designation - That part of the living will directive that designates a surrogate to make medical decisions for someone who is unable to do so. The surrogate may make decisions to continue, withhold or withdraw any life-prolonging treatments when the diagnosis is terminal and death is certain, or when the patient is in a permanently unconscious state. The surrogate also may make medical decisions in any health care crisis in which the patient is unable to do so.

Life-prolonging treatment - Any unnatural means or machine used for medical treatment that is not intended to help the patient recover but instead prolongs the dying process.

Living will directive - A written health care surrogate designation and a written declaration of a person's wishes to refuse life-prolonging treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration, in the event of a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness.

Permanently unconscious (or persistent vegetative state) - A condition characterized by the absence of cerebral cortical functions indicative of consciousness or behavioral interaction.

Surrogate - A person designated to make health care decisions for another individual if he or she is unable to make or communicate these decisions. A surrogate has the power to ask for or to refuse medical treatment on the patient's behalf.

Terminal condition - A condition that is incurable, irreversible and will result in death within a relatively short time.

For additional information

If you have additional questions about advance directives, ask to speak with a Norton Healthcare chaplain or a patient representative. 

If you do not have an attorney and want to obtain legal advice regarding advance directives, you may contact Lawyer Referral Services at (502) 583-1801 or (800) 372-2999, or call the Legal Aid Society at (502) 584-1254.

Any complaint involving advance directives may be filed with the Kentucky Office of Inspector General, Division of License and Regulation, at (502) 595-4079.

This Web site is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Norton Healthcare takes no position on advance directives or whether or not an individual should create a living will directive or a durable power of attorney.

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