Where Can You Learn About the POLST Paradigm?

Information about the physician orders for life-sustaining treatment paradigm can be found at POLST.org. The key element of POLST programs is a form intended to supplement an advanced directive. The POLST form details specific goals and treatments allowed in accordance with the wishes of the patient.

A patient can benefit from filling out a POLST form after diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or condition. The form is an order from his physician specifying what treatments the patient wants for his current condition. Detailed instructions include whether or not the patient wants resuscitation, antibiotics, comfort care only or more aggressive treatment. Most states have a POLST program either in development or fully adopted as of 2015. The POLST.org website provides details regarding which states have programs. Individuals in states not participating in a POLST program can ask their doctors to provide a similar document.

Each adult should have an advanced directive to indicate what health care treatment he would want in a future situation and to identify a health care proxy, which is a person who can legally consent to treatments if he is not able to consent himself.