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what is a polst and do i need one

The POLST is a relatively new document that states a person’s end-of-life wishes. POLST stands for Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The paradigm is creating quite a buzz in the medical community and is showing a lot of promise in ensuring a patient’s wishes are followed.

Until now, a person could implement an Advance Directive to state what their wishes would be at the end of their life.

An Advance Directive generally contains information about a person’s desire to be mechanically ventilated, artificially fed, and his desire for comfort care. However, an Advance Directive does little to protect a person from unwanted emergency medical care like CPR or transfer to a hospital. A person would need to have a separate Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) to protect him from unwanted chest compressions, electrical shocks, and artificial breathing.

With the use of a POLST paradigm, emergency and medical personnel have clear orders on which actions to take in the event of an emergency based on the patient’s wishes. It includes the patient’s desire to have or refuse CPR, to be taken to a hospital, and whether to receive artificial nutrition. The paradigm can follow a person wherever he goes; it’s valid at home, in a nursing home, a long-term care facility, and in the hospital.