What is POLST?

Hi there, Bridget Mackay here with our video blog. We’re here in Petaluma, we do estate planning and elder law. And today I want to talk about physicians’ orders for life sustaining treatment. They are also call POLSTs.

These are health documents, or form, you could fill out with your doctor or physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. And it’s sort of an advanced kind of “do not resuscitate” form. They are not replacing or won’t replace your health, advance health care directives. So, you must always have advanced health care directive where you name an agent to make health decisions when you cannot.

POLST will cover the time when you are found not breathing or not conscious and address sort of what measures you want to be taken to revive you. And will also deal with as you, if you are in those states, but still conscious and breathing. So maybe after a stroke, to what degree do you want artificial nutrition and pain medication and treatments around those situations?

It’s a little more involved than a Do Not Resuscitate order. And right now, they’re required to be filled out with your physician. And your advanced health care directive agent can fill it out for you if you are not capacitated or you don’t have capacity to do it yourself. Often your doctor will ask if you have one. If you’re getting a surgery, your surgeon or your practitioner will make sure that you have one of those on file for them. Or, if something all of a sudden happens and you already have an advanced health care directive and you’ve communicated to your agent what you want to have happen in those situations. They can fill out the POLST for you with your doctor. So the two signatures required on that form are yours or your representative and your doctors.

Look into having a POLST. It just is a further reinforcement of your wishes that you’ve already executed or haven’t under your advanced health care directive.