POLST for Providers

POLST = Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment – Information for Providers

The Hawai‘i POLST Form is available for free here at Kōkua Mau.

The Kōkua Mau website is the central source for POLST information for Hawai‘i. You can download the new POLST form and updated POLST information for providers and consumers here.

The POLST form is usually completed on distinctive bright lime-green paper and must be two-sided. The bright green color is to make the form quickly visible to families and emergency medical services personnel.

The lime-green color is also easily copied on green or white paper.  We recommend Ultra Lime No. 104034 from Mohawk Britehue 60 text at Fisher Hawaii.  The form is acceptable in black and white. A copy is a valid document as well.

See also: Frequently Asked Questions:  A Consumer Guide to POLST for Hawai‘i

POLST Form for Hawaii provided by Kokua Mau

  • POLST: Doing it Better is a new free POLST Video (7 Min 22 sec) available from the National POLST office. This excellent short video nicely summarizes the essentials of POLST.

As of July 1, 2014 Hawai‘i has a new (and improved) POLST Form expand signing privileges to APRNs (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) More.

⇒ All POLST forms filled out and signed by a physician before July 1, 2014 remain valid!

While the ‘old’ POLST forms with the word ‘physician orders’ are still valid we recommend that you only use the new POLST form after July 1, 2014. It has a new added section E and quite a few wording changes.

We translated key Kōkua Mau documents in 10 languages.  The Hawai‘i POLST Form and the POLST Information is part of it.

A Provider’s Guide to POLST:

What is POLST?

POLST (Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) is a medical order that gives patients more control over their end-of-life care.  It specifies the types of treatments that a patient wishes to receive towards the end of life. Completing a POLST form encourages communication between healthcare providers and patients, enabling patients to make more informed decisions.  The POLST form documents those decisions in a clear manner and can be quickly understood by all providers, including first responders and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. As a result, the patient’s wishes can be honored across all settings of care.

Is the POLST simply a DNR order?
No, POLST is a document that empowers a patient or their legally authorized representative (see below) to make decisions along the whole continuum of care, from very aggressive, life sustaining care, to comfort care only, including choices about full resuscitation or do not attempt resuscitation.

Is POLST the same as an Advance Health Care Directive?
No, POLST does not replace an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD).  The AHCD can provide significantly more detail about an individual’s wishes and preferences for treatment. In addition, the AHCD is the most common mechanism for designating a legally authorized representative decision maker for the patient.

Will the CCO-DNR Bracelet still be honored by EMS?
Yes, the CCO-DNR Bracelet is still a valid method to communicate a person’s intent about attempts to resuscitate. There are still thousands of these bracelets in use, and EMS personnel will continue to honor this directive.

Why is the POLST form lime green?
The POLST form is usually completed on a distinctive bright lime-green form, but is also available from the internet (here on our website) and is acceptable in black and white. The bright color is to make the form quickly visible to families and emergency medical services personnel. The lime-green color is also easily copied.  A copy on white paper is a valid document.

Does the POLST form travel with the patient between settings of care?
Yes, the POLST form is designed to be a standard form that may be accepted by all providers across the state.  As a legal medical order, it will be honored by EMS.  Hospitals, long-term care facilities, home care and hospice providers may also voluntarily honor the form and include it into their medical records.  However, providers with electronic medical records may choose to adapt the essence of the orders into their specific system.  Hospital discharge planners are encouraged to support the completion of the POLST form (when clinically appropriate) as a part of their daily practice.

Is implementing the orders from the POLST form protected under Hawaii Law?
Yes.  The law states that no provider will be subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability for carrying out the treatment orders in good faith or for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the person performing CPR was unaware of the POLST order to not attempt resuscitation or they believed that the treatment orders (including the DNR order) had been revoked or canceled.

How do providers get more copies of the POLST form?
The form is freely available here in PDF format (600K) for easy replication.  It is the standard that the form be on an 8½” X 11” sheet of lime colored paper.  The form must have both sides copied on the front and back of the paper.

Where is the family encouraged to keep the form?
For the patient at home, the POLST form should be kept in a place readily accessible by family members.  Examples include on the refrigerator, in the medicine cabinet, on the back of a bedroom door or on a bedside table. It should be kept with the AHCD.

Which patients should complete a POLST form?
It is recommended that a patient with a chronic debilitating disease, a seriously ill patient, or a terminally ill patient have both an Advance Health Care Directive and a signed POLST form. Both forms should be kept together

Who can explain the POLST form and fill it out?
The patient’s physician, APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) or another health care provider must explain to the patient or Legally Authorized Representative the nature and content of the form, including any medical interventions or procedures. Additionally, the provider must also explain the difference between the POLST form and an Advance Directive.  The physician, APRN or other healthcare provider may prepare (or fill in) the form, but it MUST be signed by the patient’s physician or APRN and the patient or their Legally Authorized Representative in order to be valid.

Which Physician or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) should be signing the POLST form?
The law stipulates that the physician or APRN who is co-signing the POLST form with the patient or their Legally Authorized Representative must be a physician or APRN licensed in the state of Hawai‘i and must have examined the patient.  The intent of this definition is to assure that there has been a professional relationship between the patient and physician or APRN.

What is a Legally Authorized Representative (LAR)?
This is someone who is able to make decisions for the patient when they are not able to make decisions on their own.  A Legally Authorized Representative can be 1) an agent designated by the patient through a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, 2) a guardian, 3) a surrogate designated by the patient when the patient is still able to make that decision, or 4) a surrogate designated by consensus of interested persons.  If a patient is not able to make decisions on their own, the patient’s primary physician determines that is the case.  After that, efforts are made to find all the people who have exhibited special care and concern for the patient and are familiar with the patient’s wishes.  Some of these people may include a spouse who is not separated or estranged, parents, and children, but interested persons do not necessarily need to be related by blood or marriage.  This group of people select a surrogate decision maker by consensus.  This is in accordance with HRS 327E-5.

What decisions can be made by a Legally Authorized Representative?
A Legally Authorized Representative can make all decisions that the patient would make on their own behalf with one exception. This exception is that the surrogate appointed by consensus in accordance with HRS 327E-5 has limitations placed upon him or her about decisions about withholding or withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration. The surrogate by consensus can only make the decision to withhold or withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration if two physicians independently certify in the patient’s medical records that the artificial nutrition and hydration only prolongs the act of dying and the patient is highly unlikely to have any neurological response in the future.

When should the POLST form be reviewed?
The physician or APRN should review the POLST form with the patient or their Legally Authorized Representative whenever there are substantial changes in the health status, when there is a transfer from one setting to another or when the goals for treatment change.

How is the form modified or voided?
A patient or their Legally Authorized Representative may revoke or void the POLST form in any manner that communicates that intent.  The form may also be voided by drawing a line through the front of the page (sections  A-E) writing “VOID” in large letters on the original and copies, and signing and dating that action.

Information about POLST for Consumers

  • Looking for POLST Information for other States besides Hawai‘i?
  • Hawai‘i was the seventh State to pass a POLST law. Please visit POLST.org to see if and what form of POLST might be offered in other States.

Questions about the ‘comfort care only‘ bracelet or necklace (DNR bracelet) that was available in Hawaii in the past? The Department of Health stated that the CCO-DNR Bracelet program has been suspended indefinitely.   Link to the DOH information  – More here 

  • Download a PDF file of Act 154 sigend into law July 1, 2014
  • Track House Bill 2052 (Relating to Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), or Act 154 from the 2014 legislative session in Hawai‘i

Back in 2009: POLST or Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment is now law in Hawai‘i as Act 186.

About the legal process of Act 186: On July 16, 2009 POLST introduced as HB1379 HD2 SD2 CD1 became law without the Governor’s signature as Act 186, (Gov. Msg. No. 543). Track the bill