HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
POLST Form Not a Substitute for Advance Healthcare Directive
Currently, California is one of 14 states and regions in the U.S. that participate in a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) program. A POLST form is an official medical order that spells out in detail your specific instructions for end-of-life care.
Broader than a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order, a POLST form can be used to specify to healthcare providers whether or not you would want a feeding tube, intubation or any other artificial means of extending life. It must be signed by your doctor and remains a part of your medical record, accessible by any healthcare provider who may be caring for you.
However, a POLST form is not a substitute for a California advance healthcare directive, which provides much more information and instruction to family members and healthcare providers, including the naming of a healthcare agent in case you are unable to make your wishes known.
POLST programs were initiated to help healthcare providers discuss end-of-life treatment options with patients, as studies show that over 75 percent of Americans will be unable to make at least some of their own end-of-life medical decisions. They also help remove a common burden of guilt on family members who are often left to decide what to do without any input from a terminally ill family member.
Executing a POLST form as part of your advance healthcare directive is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family, and a good way to ensure your end-of-life wishes are both known and respected.