What are some of the medical terms used when talking about end-of-life-care?

Resuscitation: Resuscitation, also known as CPR, attempts to restart breathing and the heartbeat of a person who has no heartbeat or has stopped breathing. It typically involves “mouth to mouth” breathing and forceful pressure on the chest to try to restart the heart. Resuscitation may also involve electrical shock (defibrillation) or a plastic tube down the throat into the windpipe to assist breathing (intubation). When a person is not breathing on his or her own, a machine pumps air in and out of the lungs through the plastic breathing tube (mechanical ventilation/respiration).

DNR: Do Not Resuscitate or DNR, is a medical order not to attempt resuscitation because the patient does not want it or it is unlikely to help the patient.

 

 Why would I choose DNR?

Resuscitation often benefits healthy people. However, success with resuscitation is frequently very poor for people with a serious medical condition or more than one medical condition. Resuscitation does not ensure that the person will have the same quality of life as before their heart stopped beating or breathing stopped.

 

Comfort Measures: Medical care focused on the main goal of keeping a person comfortable (rather than focused on medical procedures that may prolong life). On the POLST form, a person who requests comfort measures only would be moved to the hospital only if it is needed to provide comfort. The goal of managing pain and uncomfortable symptoms is always important. Food and fluids are always offered.

 

Antibiotics: Antibiotics fight infections (such as pneumonia).

 

Intravenous (IV Fluids): A small plastic tube (catheter) is placed directly into the vein and fluids are given through the tube.

 

Tube Feeding: Fluids and liquid nutrients (formula) can be given through a tube in the nose that goes into the stomach or through a tube placed directly into the stomach (by a surgical procedure).

 

When are feeding tubes not useful?

 1. It is controversial if giving nutrition by a feeding tube near the end of life may be beneficial or if it is actually harmful. People with serious illnesses such as a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease may lose the ability to eat or drink.

 

2. The patient may feel more comfortable without a feeding tube or IV. When someone can no longer eat or drink, hand-feeding may be better. Hand-feeding offers a personal touch that does not happen with medically administered fluids and liquid nutrients. Food and fluids by handfeeding are always offered for comfort and patient enjoyment.



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