For a growing number of patients, the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment ( POLST) Paradigm form has become part of the care offered at hospitals and health facilities. This is a voluntary form, not required by law. The POLST Paradigm form was developed to help honor preferences at the end of life, regarding having or not having treatments continued. The POLST form is a medical form and is not completed by the patient, but rather a health professional. The POLST programs are not available in every state. The form must be signed by the patient’s doctor, in some states a physician assistant (PA) or a nurse practitioner (NP) may sign off on it, some states require the patient and the chosen decision maker to also sign. The original form stays with the patient. It is advised to keep this form in a location that can be readily available to emergency personnel.
The POLST form is not intended to replace and Advance Directive also called a living will, which appoints a legal health care representative and gives instructions for future life-sustaining treatment plans. The POLST Paradigm form is considered appropriate for terminally ill patients with life threating conditions. The form remains with the patient even if they are moved between various medical facilities. The POLST form will be kept in your chart if you are staying in a nursing home.
A POLST Paradigm form will only be recognized in states where there is this program. It is always recommended to talk directly with your primary care physician about the form and how to best communicate your wishes.