Sunday, July 13, 2014
Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is another approach to end-of-life care that incites discussions between patients and their health care providers. The idea behind POLST is to give patients the ability to choose their course of treatment, and ensure those preferences are respected.
With POLST, patients and doctors discuss diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. Based on these conversations, patients and health care providers complete a POLST form, which documents the patient’s wishes with respect to end-of-life care. The form is signed by the patient’s health care provider and becomes part of the patient’s medical record.
It is important to note that POLST does not replace an advance directive or a durable power of attorney for health care. Rather, the POLST form supplements these other documents. Where advance directives and durable power of attorney provide instructions for future treatment, POLST gives medical orders for current treatment.
The POLST form is standardized by state and studies indicate it is making a difference in safeguarding patients’ wishes.
See Anne Jump and Doug Stanley, Planning with POLST, Bryan Cave, July 9, 2014.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.