Everyone needs an Advance Directive – Not everyone needs a POLST

Advance Directive and POLST (Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments) are both very important to document your wishes for care. To clarify the strengths and differences, we have created this chart.

The Advance Health Care Directive, commonly known as an Advance Directive, allows you to appoint your Health Care Power of Attorney the person who can speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself in a medical situation. It also allows you to specify your wishes for care at the end of life. There are many versions of the Advance Directive and you can download a free version at here. Everyone 18 years and older needs an Advance Directive.

POLST is a portable medical order that takes effect as soon as it is signed. It can follow you from home into a medical setting, and after discharge to your home or other setting such as a nursing or care home. POLST is a form that contains medical orders that specify the type of care you would like in the event of a medical emergency. This form can be quickly understood by all healthcare professionals, including first responders and ambulance personnel. Transferable to all healthcare settings, POLST must be a signed by a physician, APRN or PA to be valid. More at our POLST webpage


Advance Directive


PurposeExpress wishes for future end of life care and appoints a health care power of attorney(s)Portable Medical Order which turns a patient’s wishes to action in a medical emergency
Who Needs It?All Adults 18+ of sound mindSeriously Ill or frail at any age
Treatment FocusIn the future if you cannot speak for yourselfRight now – based on your current medical condition
Who Completes It?Individual (you)Doctor, Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or Physician Assistant (PA) & patient or legally authorized representative
Appoints Healthcare Agent?YESNO
Guides Emergency Room Decisions?YESYES
EMS Honors it?NOYES

Key Kōkua Mau materials, including the Advance Directive and POLST, are translated into 10 languages