future care decisions

Why Plan Ahead

Why Do I Need a Healthcare Directive or POLST?

Many people have strong opinions about what medical treatments they want or not want. Some have even thought about who they want to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to make their own. Yet it is really easy to put off having this discussion with family members or even your doctor. In fact, some people believe that if you just don’t talk about these things, it will never be an issue. Some people just never expect to be unable to state their healthcare wishes.

Unfortunately, people of all ages are brought into the emergency department or find themselves in ICU unable to make their healthcare wishes known. Family members are left to guess what their loved one wants. It is not uncommon for relatives to strongly disagree about the course of care. Some people think they have a right to direct the care of their loved one. Yet without a Healthcare Directive or POLST form, the law in your state determines who is authorized to make those decisions.

Using a Healthcare Directive or POLST form places the control back into your hands. With these forms you can clearly state who you want to make your healthcare decisions, if you are unable to, and what those decisions are. Also you can change or cancel at any time your wishes written on these forms.

Filling out a Healthcare Directive is easy. To make it a legal document, you only have to have two unrelated persons who are not a part of your healthcare team to sign that they witnessed your signature. Or, if you wish, a Notary Public can also sign the document. The POLST is signed by you and your doctor. That is the only requirement to make it legal.

These documents can be found in the Admissions, Social Work and Chaplain's Offices or at any Nursing Station within the hospital.