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MSD Manual

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Medical Terms Related to Life-Sustaining Treatment

Medical Terms Related to Life-Sustaining Treatment

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): An action taken to revive a person whose heart stops (cardiac arrest), whose breathing stops (respiratory arrest), or whose heart and breathing stop (cardiopulmonary arrest).

Code: The summoning of professionals trained in CPR to revive a person in cardiac, respiratory, or cardiopulmonary arrest.

No code: An order signed by a person’s doctor stating that CPR should not be attempted. (Also called a do-not-resuscitate [DNR] order.)

Irreversible coma: A coma or persistent vegetative state from which the person is not expected to recover.

Persistent vegetative state: A state in which a person has no awareness but may still have certain characteristics that can simulate awareness, such as opening their eyes, having normal sleeping and waking periods, sucking, chewing, coughing, gagging, and swallowing.

Terminally ill: The medical state of being near death where there is no possibility of cure.

Life-sustaining treatment: Any medical procedure, drug, or technology that can keep a person alive for a period of time but that cannot cure a terminal condition.

Palliative care: Specialized medical care that is focused on keeping a person free of pain and the stresses of a serious illness, regardless of the diagnosis, and is aimed at improving quality of life for both the person and family.