We’ve often visited on this blog the importance of Advanced Care Directives to ensure that patients are fully educated and empowered to make end-of-life healthcare decisions. Throughout the years, as the implications of orders like “Do Not Resuscitate” have confused and disturbed patients and families, our language and perception of these decisions is morphing. In place of the old DNR order, patients now fill out and a physician must sign something called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).
With the POLST, the focus shifts more toward patient-centered care, what we are realizing in the new paradigm of healthcare is vital for a quality end-of-life experience. POLST Paradigm Programs are popping up around the U.S. to ensure that seriously ill person’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments are known, communicated, and honored across all healthcare settings. With a better educated and empowered population, we will see less families confounded by end-of-life healthcare and less suffering in patients who are able to understand and express their wishes in advance.
We will explore the issues and information of end-of-life healthcare further in the future, inviting industry experts to share their insight. For a general overview of how the POLST works, watch this demonstration of of the conversation between a physician and patient to learn how physicians elicit detailed answers from patients about their end-of-life treatment choices for recording on the POLST form. This conversation is the key to making POLST work — it gives patients an understanding of their options and physicians an understanding of the patient’s wishes.
The POLST is a one-page form printed on hot pink card stock that must be signed by a physician, much like the old DNR order. It becomes part of the patient’s chart and stays on top, easy to sport, whether in paper or electronic form. Unlike an advance healthcare directive, POLST is a national initiative, so doesn’t have to conform to the laws of individual states.
What questions do you have surrounding end-of-life healthcare? Let us know in the comments, and keep an eye out on the blog for your answers!
- To Understand advance healthcare directives and POLST more in-depth, read our recent interview with Judy Epstein, a naturopathic physician here. She explains Advance Healthcare Directives or what some refer to as Advance Directives and the new POLST.
- A good video series with discussions of how families can work together to come to a decision regarding the healthcare directives of a loved one.
- View the one-page POLST form printed on hot pink paper here.