Definitions

ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

An advance directive has two parts:

1. LIVING WILL

A legally binding document, stating your requests for medical treatment at the end of your life. This document is only used in the instance you cannot make your wishes known yourself.

2. HEALTH CARE PROXY

A person, appointed by you, who will make health care decisions on you behalf if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. These decisions include:

  • Choices about medical care (tests, treatments, surgeries)
  • Requesting or Declining life-support treatments
  • Pain management choices
  • The right to admit you to treatment facilities
  • The right to apply for Medicare or Medicaid, or other programs, on your behalf

Also known as: Health Care Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Agent, Authorized Representative

PALLIATIVE CARE

“Medical and related care provided to a patient with a serious, life-threatening, or terminal illness that is not intended to provide curative treatment but rather to manage symptoms, relieve pain and discomfort, improve quality of life, and meet the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the patient.” – Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary

Palliative Care can and should be given while a patient is in treatment for a disease or illness. It is NOT only given when there is nothing left to be done for a patient.

Go to caringinfo.org to learn more about palliative care.

PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR LIFE SUSTAINING TREATMENT (POLST)

A document signed by both a patient and the patient’s health care practitioner stating the patient’s wishes for medical treatment at the end of that patient’s life. This is different to an advance directive because:

  • It is only available for patients with less than a year to live
  • It is a document based on a conversation between the patient and their medical practitioner
  • It becomes medical orders after being signed by the medical practitioner
  • It travels with the patient through all aspects of the health care field.

In Delaware, this form is called the Delaware Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (DMOST).
Go to polst.org to learn more about the National POLST Paradigm.