POLST (Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment or Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) is a medical order to be followed by healthcare and emergency personnel, generally used for people who are seriously ill, and/or are at the very end of their life.
POLST tells medical personnel what types of treatments a patient does or does not wish to receive during an emergency, giving the patient control over the default standard of care which is to attempt everything possible to save or prolong their life. These treatments generally fall within three categories: full treatment, selective treatment, and comfort treatment.
POLST must be obtained through direct contact with your health care provider, such as your doctor (MD/DO/PA) or nurse (APRN). It is not something you can complete on your own, as it is a medical order and requires the provider’s signature to be valid.
DNR (Do-Not-Resuscitate Order) should be a part of POLST.
DNR orders only apply when a person does not have a pulse, is not breathing and is unresponsive, however, in most medical emergencies, a person does have a pulse, is breathing or is responsive, making POLST a more comprehensive document.
Do I need a POLST form if I have a Health Care Directive?
Yes! A Health Care Directive is used to outline your future health care wishes and to identify someone who can make health care decisions for you in case you are not able to make those decisions on your own. But in an emergency, EMS or other health care professionals cannot follow the treatment wishes included in a health care directive.