The Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST, program is an approach to end-of-life planning based on communication between patients, family, and medical providers. The main goal of POLST is to combine the advice of physicians with the wishes of patients in a single form. This POLST form enables seriously ill patients to choose treatments they want and ensures that their wishes are honored.
What is a POLST form?
The POLST form is a medical order indicating a patient’s wishes regarding treatments that are commonly used in a medical crisis. As a medical order, emergency personnel – such as paramedics, EMTs, and emergency physicians – must follow these orders. Without a POLST form, paramedics and EMTs are required to provide every possible medical treatment to sustain life.
Is a POLST form right for me?
Only patients with a serious, progressive, chronic illness should have a POLST form. For these patients, their current health status makes it necessary to have a standing medical order. For healthy patients who want to plan for potential future illness, an Advanced Directive is a more appropriate tool for making end-of-life wishes known to loved ones.
How to get a POLST form
Because it is a medical order, a POLST form must be completed and signed by a health care professional and cannot be filled out by a patient. However, a health care professional always completes a form in close consultation with the patient to ensure that the patient’s values and goals of care are accurately represented.
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