POLST = Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, is your care wishes:
• Carried out through your doctor’s orders
• Followed by health care providers, including Emergency Medical Services, such as Paramedics.
The Kōkua Mau website is the central source for POLST information for Hawai‘i. You or your doctor can download a POLST form and instructions for your doctor. Some hospitals, nursing homes, home health and hospice providers as well as others in the community may also have the form for you, and can provide some assistance in understanding it and filling it out. Please remember that your POLST form must be signed by your doctor to be valid.
No. POLST is voluntary and has only been available in Hawai‘i since July 2009. However without a POLST, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or other healthcare providers may be required to attempt to restart your heart and breathing should they stop, even if you do not wish an attempt to be made to resuscitate you, and would prefer to die a natural death.
Yes. Your doctor must sign the form in order for it to be a “Physician’s Order” that is understood and followed by other health care professionals, including EMS personnel. The form also requires the signature of the person for whom the form is being completed or their healthcare power of attorney or surrogate decision maker.
► If I have a POLST form do I need an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) too?
The POLST form is not the right tool to appoint your agent for the AHCD, since POLST is a physician’s order. You may obtain more information about advance directives from your doctor. For information from Kōkua Mau please follow our Advance Directive link. The combination of POLST and AHCD gives you the best opportunity to have your wishes followed in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
► What if I am no longer able to communicate my wishes and I do not have a POLST?
Through an ACHD, you should appoint a health care power of attorney who can speak on your behalf in case you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Your doctor can complete the POLST form with your healthcare power of attorney or surrogate decision maker based on their understanding of your wishes.
► In what setting is the POLST form used?
The completed, signed POLST form is a physician order that will remain with you if you are transported between care settings, regardless of whether you are in the hospital, at home or in a long-term care facility. The POLST form is designed to be used to convey your doctor’s orders to healthcare providers including paramedics who arrive after 9-1-1 has been called.
► Why is the POLST Form lime green?
The lime green form is brightly colored so it can easily be found when needed and because it copies clearly on white paper. A plain white copy, completed correctly, and signed by a doctor is equally legal and valid. It will also be honored by health care providers including EMS personnel.
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 what form of POLST is offered in other States.
Questions about the 'comfort care only' bracelet or necklace (DNR bracelet) available in Hawai‘i since 1995? More here