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Terms and Definitions


Advance Directive


Written legal documents by which a patient expresses his wishes concerning the kind of care he wants to receive in the event he becomes unable to make his own treatment decisions.


Aid in dying



Assisted dying



Aid in dying is an overarching term that the WFRtDS uses to include all kinds of help at the end of life. It may include palliative care (which is caring for a dying person) and respecting the wish to end treatment (the person dies from the disease). Read more here.


The distribution of lethal medication to a person for self-administration and 2) the direct administration of lethal medication, in both cases causing the death. Read more here.



A concept to describe the capacity of an individual to make independent choices.




CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a set of specific medical procedures designed to establish circulation and breathing in a patient who’s suffered an arrest of both. CPR is a supportive therapy, designed to maintain perfusion to vital organs while attempts are made to restore spontaneous breathing and cardiac rhythm.




DNR, do not resuscitate, is placed on a patient’s medical chart to indicate there should be no attempt to restart a failed heartbeat or restore breathing by any means such as by using CPR (see CPR), a ventilator, electrical stimulation, or use of medications for this purpose. A DNR order can be changed and experts say it should be reviewed regularly.




Deliberate termination of life by someone else, on the explicit request of the person involved. Voluntary’ euthanasia (VE) is a term to emphasize the voluntariness of the request for euthanasia. In the past, the terms passive/active were added to make a distinction between ending life-saving treatment (passive) and termination of life on request (active).




term used in medical care to describe medical interventions that will have little effect on outcome or prognosis. 


Palliative sedation


The practice of relieving distress in a terminally ill person in the last hours or days of a dying patient’s life. The objective is to control pain and discomfort, not to shorten the patient’s life.


(Physician) Assisted suicide

Termination of life by person concerned (suicide), with the assistance of a physician (prescribing drugs).


Prohibition of treatment


A (written) statement advising health professionals that no exceptional  measures should be used to attempt to save a person’s life.


Right to Die


A basic conviction that end-of-life decisions should be an individual choice.