About Health Care
What is POLST and e-POLST?
The POLST—Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment—is a medical order, like a prescription for medication that must be prepared by a licensed health care provider. He or she must work directly with the patient or a surrogate decision maker to fill it out.
Unlike some other forms, a POLST is easily transferrable between the doctor that fills it out and any other doctor that is treating you. Also unlike some other forms, a POLST goes into effect as soon as it is signed.
A POLST is most helpful to people who:
- Have a serious or advanced illness such as cancer, COPD, or heart, liver, or kidney failure
- Have specific preferences about specific types of care that may be provided at the end of life, such as CPR, a feeding tube, or a mechanical ventilator
- Want a DNR order when living outside of a licensed healthcare facility
The preferences you indicate on the POLST form can be changed at any time by filling out a new form.
There is now an electronic system for POLST, called e-POLST, which is easier to access for healthcare providers and EMS (Emergency Medical Services). For most people, e-POLST functions exactly the same as POLST.
If you think the POLST would help you achieve your end-of-life care wishes, talk to your doctor. For many people, Advance Directives may be a more appropriate choice.
Adapted from Utah Commission on Aging Tool Kit for Advance Healthcare Planning (2012).
What's the difference between Advance Directives and POLST?
|Advance Directives vs. POLST|
|For anyone 18 and older||For persons with serious illness and/or limited life expectancy at any age|
|Instructions for FUTURE treatment||Medical orders for CURRENT treatment|
|Does not guide Emergency Medical Personnel||Guides actions by Emergency Medical Personnel|
|Guides inpatient treatment decisions||Guides inpatient treatment decisions|
|Only legal mechanism for a Utahn to have a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation- DNR order outside of a licensed health care facility|