By: Judah Gutwein, L.N.H.A. - Regency Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers
What Does POLST Stand For?
POLST stands for Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.
POLST is a set of medical orders that places control of end-of-life healthcare decisions into the hands of the patient.
POLST forms are signed by the doctor and the patient and serves to outline the precise treatment that the patient wishes to receive towards the end of life.
POLST forms essentially guard the patient against unwanted treatments and protocol when he/she is most compromised and helps ease family tension and ensure that the patients’ wishes are adhered to and honored.
Information included on the POLST form
The documentation on the POLST form includes:
Why was POLST developed?
POLST was developed as a response to the increasing number of patients who were seriously ill and did not receive the types of medical treatments that were commensurate with their previously expressed wishes.
The goal of POLST is to provide a rubric for healthcare practitioners so that they could provide only the requisite care requested by the patient and to avoid any types of treatments not desired.
It bears mentioning that POLST is not (yet) a legal requirement and remains entirely voluntary.
In addition, it is important to note that POLST forms do not replace more traditional advanced directives, but is supplementary to it.
POLST forms do not expire and should be reviewed periodically and updated if necessary.
In summation, POLST forms will contain the “Goals of Care” of the individual and provides for a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s medical condition, prognosis and goals.
These goals should play an integral role in the conversation with patients regarding all treatment plans and procedures.