POLST is a process and a form
POLST has different names in different states. At the national level, it is simply called POLST: Portable Medical Orders, or POLST for short. Portable means that the order is valid outside the clinic or doctor’s office, similar to a drug prescription.
POLST is many things, including:
- A process. Part of advance care planning, which helps you live the best life possible.
- Conversation. A good talk with your provider about your medical condition, treatment options, and what you want.
- A medical order form that travels with you (called a POLST form).
POLST communicates your wishes as medical orders
A POLST form tells all health care providers during a medical emergency what you want:
- “Take me to the hospital” or “I want to stay here”
- “Yes, attempt CPR” or “No, don’t attempt CPR”
- “These are the medical treatments I want”
- “This is the care plan I want followed”
POLST is for the seriously ill or frail
POLST gives seriously ill or frail people more specific direction over their health care treatments compared to advance directives and more options than Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
Watch How Hope Grows to think about how your wishes may change as your medical condition progresses:
These short videos share how POLST differs from Advance Directives and DNRs during an emergency:
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What is National POLST?
National POLST is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization that organizes the effort to standardize the POLST process, form and education throughout the U.S., since POLST varies from state to state. Learn more about the history of POLST and National POLST and its name and logo.
In 2014 the Institute of Medicine, now the National Academy of Medicine, wrote a report that encouraged all states to create a POLST program that meets national standards. Your state is likely helping set the POLST standards by being part of National POLST. For information about what is happening with POLST specifically where you are, get in touch with the POLST leaders in your state. You can look up their contact information at our Directory of POLST Programs.
We encourage you to take control of your medical treatments by talking with your health care provider about advance care plans. Start by learning more about advance care planning. If you are already comfortable with advance care planning, we invite you to learn more About POLST.
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