Monday, March 12, 2012

Advancing Care with the POLST Form

Coming soon, on April 16th, is National Health Care Decisions Day. Hoperfully this will be a reminder to medical care organizations to further reach out to their communities in order to provide education and access to advance care directives. The documents that attorneys provide and that are available on-line are the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. These are also available from many state medical associations and other community service groups. A few communities such as La Crosse, Wisconsin have been very successful in promoting community wide use of advance directives.

There are now excellent resources for individuals, community groups, and states to further develop programs in advance care planning. A recent conference was held in San Diego, California. The remarkable efforts in California and the national progress pioneered in Oregon are now available. The "state of the art" in developing POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) programs can be found by visiting these two links.

The advancement in the development of POLST programs across the country is impressive. However, to enhance the effectiveness, more funding is needed for registries to be available 24/7 and more grants are needed for quality and outcome research. Progress has been made, but there's much more still to be done.


  1. I live in Texas where they are considering doing this. I do need something like this, if I do one with one of my docs will it be honored? I will fill one out for my husband to have on my behalf if necessary. Thoughts? The POLST appears to suit my needs and wishes .

    1. If Texas doesn't have the POLST available yet, I'd first make sure that you and your husband both have appointed a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is available through the Texas Medical Association at Also, please have the important discussion of your hopes and fears with your loves ones and doctor. You can complete a values statement and attach it to your Advance Directive - see

      Make copies of these documents for your doctors, and decisions makers. There's no guarantee, but if they understand your hopes and fears, the ethical code in medicine is to honor the wishes of the patient.