Patients who document their end-of-life wishes using a special medical form get the specific care they want in their final days, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University looked at the growing use of the voluntary form, called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or Polst. The document lets patients request or refuse certain medical treatments such as CPR or intensive care. The study is the largest on the topic so far and the first to look at preferences stated in the form and where people actually die.
Polst programs have been adopted or are in development in 43 states. Proponents say that in addition to giving patients a voice in the face of advanced illness, they can help trim the nation’s bill for costly interventions that don’t extend life for patients who don’t want them. However, the programs remain controversial with some groups in the often-fraught national debate about end-of-life care.