Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment
Unlike other advance directives, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is an order between a physician and the maker (senior). The order covers the treatments desired by the patient for specific diagnosed illnesses. For example, an eighty-year-old senior may be diagnosed with late-stage cancer and not want any type of chemotherapy other than therapies that can be delivered in pill format. Consequently, the POLST would identify this concern.
POLST, POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment), MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)
A POLST document addresses end-of-life care planning arrived at by a licensed physician and terminal patient. It goes into effect after their signatures and is not conditional. The POLST is a set of specific medical orders that guides medical professionals in various settings. These also include hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, home care providers and emergency responders. Is also complementary to an AMD.
Used by patients with terminal conditions. In addition, An appointed health care agent cannot intervene.
It is standard and recognized by medical providers. However, there may be state-specific laws concerning their validity and acceptance from state to state and across medical providers.
There is also a signature requirement. A licensed physician and patient must sign. If the patient has a medical agent and is incapacitated, the agent could sign on behalf of the patient.
A competent maker (patient) can revoke or modify at any time.
Where Can I Get Them
These forms are free and every State has a version. To find yours, click here.
How Will First Responders Respond
A POLST is a binding legal document signed by your physician. For example, if a first responder is shown a validly executed POLST with a DNR instruction, they will follow that order.
Other Resources On POLSTs
See also the National POLST website here.
Also, see our section on directives here.