Living will: An advance medical directive that specifies what types of medical treatment are desired. A living will can be very specific or very general. The most common statement in a living will requests that if the patient suffers an incurable, irreversible illness, disease, or condition, and the attending physician determines that the condition is terminal, life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong dying be withheld or discontinued. More specific living wills may include information regarding an individual's desire for services such as pain relief, antibiotics, hydration, feeding, and the use of ventilators, blood products, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/19/2012