The DNR Conversation: Part II POLST

This is an update to my previous post The DNR Conversation.

While exploring the DNR form, I learned that there is another form referred to as POLST that some medical professionals (including my dads) use.  POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.  Like the DNR form, POLST is voluntary and addresses if the patient wants CPR performed.  But as the website for the California POLST form states, the form also provides “seriously ill patients more control over their end-of-life care” which includes intubation, antibiotic use and feeding tubes.

The words “seriously ill” jumped off the website.  My dad is 91 and has medical issues like people his age are prone to but he is not seriously ill.  Actually, based on feedback from all his doctors, he’s doing darn well and his health has even stabilized/improved in the past few years after moving to assisted living in Marin and getting a new team of doctors.  So having a discussion about the POLST form requires even more finessing so the wrong message isn’t communicated.

If you are in my position and need to have the DNR or POLST conversation with your parent and their physician, I wish you luck.

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