A nationally recognizable Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form would give seriously ill or frail seniors the ability to communicate treatment preferences across care settings, according to the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. The organization is backing adoption of the form.

While not solely for emergency care, POLST addresses problems these seniors may have with advance directives and do not resuscitate orders, says advocate organization National POLST. Unlike advance directives, the document summarizes patient wishes as medical orders, such as:

  • “Take me to the hospital,” or “I want to stay here.”
  • “Yes, attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” or “No, don’t attempt CPR.”
  • “These are the medical treatments I want.”
  • “This is the care plan I want provided to me.”

The frequent scenario of a suddenly incapacitated patient requiring first responder attention or extreme care measures such as intubation is a pressing dilemma in COVID-19 care. Elderly and frail patients may become unable to express their wishes about what emergency measures they want taken. For that reason, AMDA on Friday announced that its board supports National POLST’s efforts to create a single, national form.

The POLST form must be immediately recognizable to all emergency medical services providers and healthcare professionals, said AMDA. A form that is honored by all will reach its full value to patients, it concluded.

More information is available on the National POLST website.