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Physicians' Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment

Posted by attorney Mary Anne Vance

Your physician can now use a new form to write orders that indicate what type of life-sustaining treatment you want or do not want at the end of life. The Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (“POLST") form, recently introduced for physicians’ use, is available from the Washington State Medical Association, who can be reached at (206) 441-9762. The form is intended for use by any person over the age of 18 with serious health conditions.

In addition to the POLST form, you should also have a Health Care Directive and a Medical Durable Power of Attorney. The Health Care Directive says whether you want to have your life prolonged by medical intervention if you are terminally ill. The Medical Durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate another person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

We should all sign a Health Care Directive and Medical Durable Power of Attorney, and if we become terminally ill, we should also review the POLST form with our physician.

Additional resources provided by the author

The Washington State Medical Association web site provides a copy of this form, as well as information about using it.

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