POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. It is a type of advance directive that is designed to give seriously ill patients the ability to say what type of life sustaining treatment they prefer. The options range from comfort care only to full scale interventions.
One of the key differences between POLST and some of the other Florida advance directives that you may be familiar with (such as the designation of healthcare surrogate and living will), is that POLST is an actual medical order signed by a health care provider.
POLST can be taken by the patient from their house, to the hospital or to the long-term care facility so that the same medical order that they know captures their wishes can be seen and followed in all the health care settings.
POLST is not yet authorized for use on a statewide basis in Florida (Florida is described as a state with a developing POLST program on the www.polst.org website) but POLST is being test piloted in various health care settings around the state. In Pinellas County, it is being test piloted by Suncoast Hospice.
It is going to be interesting to hear from the test pilot sites about whether patients, as well as their families, feel that POLST can indeed allow them to better direct their individual visions about how their end of life journeys should occur.