A problematic new end-of-life medical form is rapidly gaining ascendency in U.S. healthcare. It is called the “POLST” document. (In my own state of Colorado, it’s called a MOST document.) The acronym stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment….
The POLST-type legislation removes the condition that a patient is terminally ill or diagnosed in a PVS before a refusal order is actionable. In other words, the new law permits any adult patient to refuse any treatment at any time for any reason in the event they lack decisional capacity; and health care professionals, directed by a doctor’s medical order, ordinarily would be (and are) required to carry out the order. Although the law for strategic purposes is rhetorically formulated as bearing upon end-of-lifemedical decisions, it sets forth no requirement that a patient’s refusal of life-support must be limited to end-of-life conditions.