Advance Directives and End-of-life Decision Making

Advance directives are oral or written statements given by competent individuals regarding the medical treatment they would like to receive should an incapacitating injury or illness preclude their ability to make or express their own decisions. They are most often used to make decisions when a person is near the end of life, and difficult choices must be made about the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment.

Rapid advances in medical technology over the past several decades have made end-of-life decision making an increasingly important and complex challenge for patients, their families, and healthcare professionals. Advance directives play a role in many end-of-life decisions, and their use is encouraged by medical professionals and supported by state and federal law. This entry describes the main types ...

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