POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment but would be more accurately described as Physician Orders regarding Life-Sustaining Treatment. It is a set of medical orders that ensure patients' wishes are honored.
POLST is not currently available in Arizona but there is an active program to create it and we support that. POLST originated in Oregon in 1991 and is now available in 14 states and being developed in 27 others (including Arizona).
POLST is built upon conversations between patients, loved ones, and health care professionals, during which patients can determine the extent of care they wish to receive. As a result of these conversations, patients may elect to complete a POLST form, which translates their wishes into actionable medical orders fulfilling what the patient wants and does not want.
Only patients with serious, progressive, chronic illnesses should have a POLST form. For healthy patients, an Advance Directive is an appropriate tool for making future end-of-life care wishes known to loved ones. POLST does not substitute for naming a health care agent or durable power of attorney for health care.
In Arizona, the plan is to create a pilot POLST program at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix and gradually expand it to other health care centers statewide.