If you are severely ill or approaching the end of your life, you might want to think about filling out a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) document. This form establishes default orders concerning your end-of-life medical care that you may present at healthcare facilities.

What Information Does a POLST Form Contain?

POLST documents contain all the information hospitals and other medical clinics require to provide you with your desired end-of-life care, such as:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your gender
  • Your nutrition preferences
  • When and if you want CPR
  • Which treatments you want

A standard POLST form is one or two pages long. You should generally fill it out with the assistance of your primary care physician.

You and your doctor must both sign the POLST document.

What is the Difference Between a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Document and a DNR Order?

POLST documents and DNR (do-not-resuscitate) orders have quite a lot in common. Both forms let doctors and first responders know whether or not you would like them to give you CPR.

However, your DNR orders only apply if you are not breathing, do not have a pulse, or are otherwise unresponsive. POLST forms apply regardless of your medical condition.

POLST forms can also provide medical professionals with information they cannot get from a standard DNR order. For instance, you can use a POLST document to tell healthcare workers:

  • You want basic medical treatment but do not wish to go to the ER
  • You only want to receive comfort measures, or
  • You do not wish to receive any artificial nutrition

If you only have a DNR, your family or your medical team may make these decisions on your behalf.

Should Healthy People Fill Out a POLST Form?

The primary purpose of POLST documents is to provide doctors and other healthcare professionals with guidance on how to handle end-of-life care. As such, it is rarely advisable for healthy people to fill out a POLST form.

However, healthy individuals do not need to leave their medical care up to chance. While they probably shouldn’t complete a POLST document, they can create an advance directive with the help of an experienced family or estate planning lawyer.

An advance directive is a legal document that outlines how an individual wants their medical decisions to be made if they are incapacitated. It applies even in non-life-threatening medical situations.

Your Trusted San Diego Estate Planning Lawyer

Do you need more information about POLST forms? Maybe you would like some help creating an advance directive for yourself or a member of your family? Then please do not hesitate to reach out to a knowledgeable San Diego family lawyer at the Semanchik Law Group. Our experienced team has been providing legal assistance to the people of Southern California for years – and we would love to do the same for you.

To set up a consultation with one of our attorneys, all you need to do is fill in our brief online contact form or give us a call at (619) 535-1811. We look forward to assisting you.