Step 2: Understanding Your Medical Choices


You might want to become familiar with some of the medical subjects that relate to future medical care, especially medical treatment choices specifically mentioned in Arizona law. There are many places you can get information to help you from your physician, at your local library or bookstore, on the Internet, by sharing experiences of friends and family, etc. so this is only a beginning to get you started thinking about these important matters. 
The information below may be helpful to you but is not a substitute for legal advice.
(Content is courtesy of the
Office of the Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich.) 
 

1  COMFORT CARE

Under Arizona law, comfort care is an effort to protect or enhance quality of life without artificially prolonging life. Comfort care often means pain medication. For example, morphine and other medications may be administered to alleviate pain, and dosages can be increased as pain increases. Medications may or may not cause sleepiness, sedation, or other side effects. Talk with your doctor about your concerns as to pain relief, and what is best in a given circumstance for a suffering person.

Comfort care can also include oxygen and perhaps stopping certain medical interventions. It may involve offering but not forcing food or fluids, keeping the patient clean, cooling or warming the patient, humidifying the room, turning lights on or off, holding the patient's hand, and comforting him or her with soothing words and music.

  2  CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION (“CPR”) AND ARTIFICIAL BREATHING

CPR was developed to assist victims facing sudden death, such as heart attack or trauma, and increases the likelihood of long-term survival. Unless a doctor or other licensed health care provider authorizes a Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) or you have a valid Prehospital Medical Care Directive, CPR is administered virtually every time a person’s heart stops. Talk to your doctor to learn more about why you might choose to accept or reject CPR, and the methods of CPR you want or do not want.

Ventilators put air and therefore oxygen into the lungs, and thus can save lives. Oxygen is administered for a short term by a tube through the nose or mouth and for a longer term via a tracheotomy (a hole in the throat). Talk with your doctor about the use of a ventilator.


3  ARTIFICIALLY ADMINISTERED FOOD AND FLUIDS  

Food and fluids can be artificially administered by medical procedures, including intravenous treatment or by various types of tubes inserted into the body (if food and fluid can be taken by spoon, drink, or other natural means, it is not artificially administered). Talk with your doctor about artificially administered food and fluids when a person is close to death, as compared to the use of these devices when a person is expected to recover. Also, discuss the comfort or discomfort of these procedures.