What is POLST?
A POLST form is a physician-signed order form which communicates and puts into action treatment preferences when a person is near the end of their life. The POLST form is transferable across care settings. For example, if you are in a nursing facility and need to go to the hospital for treatment, your POLST form will travel with you so the hospital will know your treatment preferences. Click POLST to see a sample of the National POLST form recently adopted in Virginia.
Who should have a POLST Form?
Anyone dealing with a chronic progressive illness, is frail and elderly or has a terminal illness should have a POLST form.
How do I get a POLST form?
The POLST form should be completed only after having an advanced care planning discussion between yourself and your physician or a trained POLST Advance Care Planning Facilitator (ACPF) at the direction of the physician.
If you are hospitalized or in a nursing facility, POLST may also be offered there as well. Ask your physician or nurse if POLST would be appropriate for you or your loved ones.
What is the difference between POLST and my Advance Care Plan (Advance Directive)?
Advance Care Plans (Advance Directives, Living Wills, Medical Power of Attorney) are statements of the healthcare wishes of the person. Advance Care Plans (ACP) can also appoint a Medical Power of Attorney (Health Care Agent) as well as an Agent for making organ and tissue donations. The ACP helps guide your family and physicians in what type of treatment you may or may not want. ACP’s can and are encouraged to be completed by all adults. ACP’s are NOT medical orders and will not be accepted by EMS personnel, but DNRs and POLST forms are accepted by EMS. POLST forms are for people nearing the end of life. The POLST form is a set of specific medical orders directing your health care providers in your care as you near the end of your life. Any treatments you outline in your ACP must then be written into a physician’s orders, such as POLST forms, before they can be implemented.
Will my POLST be honored?
Yes. Once a POLST is created, it is a physician’s order and will be followed as such.