California's New POLST Form Is Now In Effect

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 • by Gene Newman

Attention California residents: It's time to discard your old Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms and start using the new one, which went into effect on October 1, 2014.

For those unfamiliar with a POLST, think of it as a more customized DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for people with advanced illnesses. While you can obtain a copy of the form here or in our State-By-State POLST Forms section, for it to be official you must fill it out with a doctor.

According to the official site, here are the main changes to the form:

--In order to be consistent with Section A, treatment choices for Sections B and C have been switched in their order, and each section begins with the most aggressive and invasive treatment choices.

--In Section B, the choice of “Limited Additional Interventions” has been renamed to “Selective Treatment,” and the choice of “Comfort Measures Only” has been renamed to “Comfort-Focused Treatment.”

--Goal statements have been added for each treatment choice in Section B. These descriptions help patients understand the goals of care within each option, and aim to promote quality conversations with a patient and/or legally recognized decisionmaker. The goal statements are as follows:

  • Full Treatment – primary goal of prolonging life by all medically effective means.
  • Selective Treatment – goal of treating medical conditions while avoiding burdensome measures.
  • Comfort-Focused Treatment – primary goal of maximizing comfort.

--In Section B, the Full Treatment option features a box which can be marked to indicate: “Trial Period of Full Treatment.” This option is beneficial for patients who want to try short-term ventilatory support but do not want prolonged life support.

--“Address” was clarified and now reads as “Mailing Address.”

--The new “Office Use Only” box is in place for internal use only.