Understanding Your POLST

A Guide to What Your Completed POLST Form Means

Now that you have a completed POLST form, there are still some things to know and do.

What do I do with my completed POLST form?

  • Carry your POLST with you if you go to a facility.
  • If you are home, post it on your refrigerator or put it in your medicine cabinet. Emergency personnel will look for it those places.
  • Tell your family and friends you have a POLST form so they can tell emergency personnel to look for it.
  • If you are traveling, keep a copy in your purse or wallet near your ID. Emergency personnel will look there to find it.

Share Your POLST Form

Sharing your POLST form with your family and friends helps them support your choices if there are questions you are unable to answer. Use the guide above to explain your POLST form choices with family and friends.

Review Your POLST Form

Because your feelings may change over time and, just as importantly, your medical condition will change over time, a POLST form isn’t meant to be done just once and never reviewed again. You should review it once in a while to make sure it still says what you want it to say.

A photo of a doctor talking with a patient and family. The patient is on hospital bed, a woman is sitting next to her looking at the doctor. The doctor is holding a POLST form.

If You Need to Change to Your POLST

You cannot change your POLST form yourself. If you want to change anything on your POLST form, you need to make an appointment with your provider. It is a medical order signed by your provider, so just as you cannot change a prescription written by your provider, you cannot change the POLST form. Instead, your provider must void or cancel your current POLST form and fill out a new one.

How to Cancel or Void Your POLST Form

If you want to void or cancel your POLST form you can. There are two steps to take:

  1. Write VOID in large letters across it or destroy the document.
  2. Tell your provider you have done this—this is important! They need to void it in your medical record. If your provider does not know you have voided your POLST form, they may see it in your medical record and think it is still what you want and provide those treatments if you cannot speak for yourself and need care. Also, if your state has a POLST registry that keeps copies of POLST forms, your provider will need to tell the registry that you have canceled or voided your POLST form. If the registry is not notified that you voided your POLST form, then they will retain a copy of your POLST form that other providers could access, and think it is still valid.

Make Sure Your Advance Directive and POLST Agree

You should confirm with your provider that your advance directive and POLST are aligned, meaning that they support the same goals and don’t conflict.

Explore More

You may view our other resources or find out from our POLST Programs Directory who are your local POLST leaders.