If you or a loved one has a terminal diagnosis, you have the right to direct whether or not you would want resuscitation efforts should you stop breathing. Through consultation with your physician you can express your wishes to your doctors, healthcare providers, and especially emergency responders so that they know what actions to take or not take. The form that you fill out and sign is called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Once your attending physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant-certified and you sign the form, it becomes an actual physician’s order that will follow you wherever you go to receive medical care and treatment, whether you are receiving that care at home, in the hospital, or in a nursing home.
A POLST can address several different aspects of end-of-life planning, including the following:

  • Whether you want to receiving life-sustaining treatment, such as CPR, artificial hydration and nutrition, intubation or mechanical breathing, emergency medications, and dialysis
  • Whether you want to remain at home or be hospitalized if you have a terminal medical condition
  • Whether you want to receive any limited medical treatment
  • Whether you want to receive palliative care, comfort care, and/or hospice care
  • Whether you would prefer to have a “Do Not Resuscitate” or “DNR” order

While POLST does not replace the need for other Advance Directives, such as a Living Will, it does serve as a portable summary of your wishes as to life-sustaining treatment in the event of an emergency that will follow you wherever you go for medical treatment. In other words, POLST acts as a supplement to your Living Will. In an emergency situation, a physician can immediately rely on the information in your POLST, which always remains as the first page in your clinical chart, rather than searching for other legal documents that express your wishes about life-sustaining treatment and end-of-life care.
At Elder Law Group PLLC, we are Washington advance directive lawyers who dedicate our legal practice to helping individuals and their families adequately plan for the future. Don’t delay in making crucial decisions about your future medical care and treatment. Call our office today to set up your appointment and learn what options are available to you.