What Is a POLST Form?
A POLST form can inform your doctors which kinds of treatment you want or do not want. The form applies if you are in cardiac arrest or otherwise experiencing a serious medical condition.
For example, you can say on the form that if you are in cardiac arrest, you do not want resuscitation (including chest compressions (CPR), defibrillation, or heart-stimulating drugs). There are boxes to check on the form to specify the type of treatment that you want, plus you can add additional information if desired.
Further, you can specify whether you would like doctors to give you other life sustaining measures, including:
- IV antibiotics
- IV fluids
- Artificial nutrition and feeding tubes
Again, you simply check boxes on the form to specify what you prefer. The form also includes a section to indicate whether you have an advance directive.
What Is the Difference Between a POLST Form and an Advance Directive?
A POLST form focuses on the specific kinds of life-sustaining treatment you want or do not want. While you can include some information about life-sustaining treatment in an advance health care directive, it also allows you to appoint a health care agent and specify end-of-life wishes. End-of-life wishes might include choices about when to remove life support, organ donation, last rites, anatomical donations, and more.
In contrast to an advance directive, the POLST form is easy for medical staff to read in an emergency. It clearly specifies which treatment you want on a single page. In sum, in conjunction with an advance directive, the POLST form protects your wishes in case of a serious medical emergency.
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