POLST is not the same as Advance Directives

Some time ago, we published an article regarding POLST Medical Orders.

The article was picked up by Wellness.com and was very well received.

At the same time, of late, we have been asked how/if Advance Directives correlate with POLST – and the truth of the matter is that they don’t exactly correlate and they are not 100% the same.

Here is the quick differentiation:

  1. Advance Directive: This is called different things in different states (e.g., living will, health care power of attorney) but, regardless of the term, this describes a legal document you use to provide guidance about what types of treatments you may want to receive in case of a future, unknown medical emergency. It also is where you say who can speak for you to make medical treatment decisions when you cannot speak for yourself (called a “surrogate”). All adults should have an advance directive.
  2. Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form: This is called different things in different states (e.g., MOLST, MOST, POST) but, regardless of the term, a POLST Form is a medical order for the specific medical treatments you want during a medical emergency. Only individuals with a serious illness or advanced frailty near the end-of-life should have this form.

and a helpful diagram below:

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