Ward Class

An Online Resource Site For Student Nurses

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Ward Class is an online resource for student nurses. Created with the aim of helping student nurses cope with the demands of nursing school and clinicals, it offers free downloads, notes, sample NCPs, sample drug studies, study aids, news and updates, and practical tips to its users.

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On Living Wills and Advance Directives

If there is something I remember clearly about my Nursing Management and Leadership class which I had years ago, it has to be the topic on living wills and advance directives. So for those who have had readings on Professional Accountability, I have this question to ask:



Is a living will an advance directive?

The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. A living will is a type of advance directive.By definition, it is a written, legal document which states the type of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures a person does or does not want. This may cover mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis, end-of-life treatments, and resuscitation. A living will may also be called a health care declaration or health care directive.

While a living will is an advance directive, not all advance directives are living wills. Advance directives are more than just living wills. By definition, an
advance directive is an instruction given by an individual specifying what should be done for his or her health in the event that he or she is no longer able to make decisions. Advance directives may include:


  1. living wills
  2. durable power of attorney--> appoints a health care agent or proxy who will make medical decisions for the principal (patient) in the event that the latter is unable to do so; a health care proxy is usually a family member, a friend, or a family physician whom the principal trusts to have his or her best interests (the patient's) in mind.
  3. DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders--> requests not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event that the patient's heart stops or if the patient stops breathing.
  4. organ donation

Anyone aged 18 and older may prepare an advance directive. Two witnesses must attest that the patient is of sound mind and signed the document on his or her own accord, free of duress or undue influence. The witnesses must be of legal age and are not designated as the principal's health care proxy.

Advance directives such as living wills and DNR orders are attached to the patient's chart.


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