Research study compares POLST registry data in Oregon and West Virginia

Published June 27, 2016, an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, compares POLST registry data from Oregon and West Virginia. “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Medical Intervention Orders and In-Hospital Death Rates: Comparable Patterns in Two State Registries.”

Goals of this study included comparison of two different state POLST programs having distinct demographics and different approaches to electronic registries. A key metric evaluated was the relationship of POLST medical intervention orders to in-hospital death, which was evaluated using POLST data linked with state death records.

Data from 2012 and 2013 were analyzed, with findings that location of death varied across POLST order selections, but in a very similar manner between the two states. Decedents with Comfort Only orders were least likely to die in-hospital, with only 10.8% of them dying in-hospital in West Virginia and 6.8% in Oregon. A much higher proportion of decedents will full treatment orders died in-hospital, 33.0% in West Virginia and 39.1% in Oregon.

Overall, this confirmed previous research results, and indicated similar patterns between the two states studied, in which Comfort Only orders less often resulted in in-hospital deaths, compared to Full Treatment orders. The sample contained patients of all ages and all natural causes of death, and included patients from all care settings, not just those residing in nursing homes.

» AH Moss, DM Zive, EC Falkenstine, EK Fromme and SW Tolle, J Am Geriatr Soc, 1532-5415. (limited access)