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Uniform Determination of Death Act

A proposal that established uniform guidelines for determining when death has occurred.

Brain death

Final cessation of bodily activity, used to determine when death actually occurs; circulatory and respiratory functions have irreversibly ceased, and the entire brain ( including the brain stem) has irreversibly ceased to function


A condition of deep stupor from which the patient cannot be roused by external stimuli

Persistent vegetative state (PVS)

Severe mental impairment characterized by irreversible cessation of the higher functions of the brain, most often caused by damage to the cerebral cortex

Terminally ill

Referring to patients who are expected to die within six months


The study of the death and of psychological methods of coping with it

Uniform Rights of the Terminally 111 Act

A federal statute passed in 1989 to guide state legislatures in constructing laws to address advance directives

Active euthanasia

conscious medical act that results in the death of a dying person

Passive euthanasia

the act of allowing a dying patient to die naturally, without medical interference

Voluntary euthanasia

the act of ending a dying patient's life by medical means with his or her permission

Involuntary euthanasia

The act of ending a terminal patient's life by medical means without his or her permission

Palliative care

Treatment of a terminally ill patient's symptoms in order to make dying more comfortable; also called comfort care

Curative care

Treatment directed toward curing a patient's disease


a facility or program in which teams of health care practitioners and volunteers provide a continuing environment that focuses on the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the dying patient

Patient Self-Determination Act

A federal law passed 1990 that requires hospitals and other health care providers to provide written information to patients regarding their rights under state law to make medical decisions and execute advance directives

Living will

An advance directive that specifies an individual's end-of-life wishes

Durable power of attorney

An advance directive that confers upon a designee the authority to make a variety of legal decisions on behalf of the grantor, usually including health care decisions

Health care proxy

A durable power of attorney issued for purposes of health care decisions only

National Organ Transplant Act

Passed in 1984, a statute that provides grants to qualified organ procurement organizations and established an Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act

national statute allowing individuals to donate their bodies or body parts, after death, for use in transplant surgery, tissue banks, or medical research or education

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