Medical Definition of Living will

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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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Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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