24 Apr 2012

POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. A POLST is a legal document to be signed by both a patient and the patient’s doctor, where the patient sets forth his or her wishes regarding end of life treatment. The instructions in the POLST must be based on the patient’s current medical condition and wishes. As such, it is not intended for a healthy 30 year old person; but rather for a person with a chronic or life-limiting illness or a person of advanced age.

A POLST is not an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) and is not intended to be used in lieu of an AHCD. A POLST may be used to supplement an Advance Health Care Directive. However, if a person decides to have both an AHCD and a POLST, it is important that the terms of a person’s AHCD be consistent with the terms of his or her POLST. Generally, the AHCD is meant to provide instructions about a patient’s desired medical care after the person has already been treated by emergency personnel. In contrast, the POLST is meant to instruct emergency personnel on what actions to take while the person is still at home.

A POLST gives emergency and medical personnel instructions on what actions they may or may not take in an emergency situation. The POLST document includes instructions regarding: the patient’s desire to accept or refuse CPR; the patient’s desire for medical intervention (and the degree of the medical intervention); and patient’s instructions regarding artificial nutrition. The POLST may be used whether the patient is at home, in a nursing home, in a long-term care facility, and in the hospital.

A POLST form was developed by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority and the current form may be found here: EMSA POLST Form.

If you would like to discuss this or other trusts and estates issues, please contact the attorneys at Drucker Law Offices, 468 North Camden Drive, 2nd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, 310.285.5375 Tel, 310.444.9754 Fax, www.druckerlaw.com

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