Understanding the POLST Process
The POLST process helps ensure patient wishes are elicited, documented and honored, which improves patient care and reduces medical errors.
When a patient is diagnosed with a serious advanced illness or frailty, the health care professional and patient should talk about the specifics of the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, the benefits and burdens of available treatment options and the patient’s goals of care. Using that information, the health care professional and patient work together to make decisions about what medical treatments the patient would like to receive or avoid based on the person’s values, beliefs, and goals for care. The health care professional documents those decisions as medical orders when they fill out and sign the POLST form.
Having a POLST form is always voluntary and even if a patient elects not to have a POLST form, the process allows patients to have a better awareness of their options for treatment going forward and health care professionals to better understand their patient’s goals of care.