The onset of a new year always brings about thoughts of new beginnings. With the creation of resolutions and goal setting come thoughts of becoming prepared. Common is the focus upon bolstering finances, increasing healthful practices, even putting together an emergency plan for unwelcomed and unplanned events.
In all of these considerations, has an end-of-life plan been included? Not a pleasant thought to be certain but a necessary one to ensure your every wish is followed when that very difficult, highly emotional moment arrives. Even with the best intentions and deepest discussions, facing that moment is often extremely difficult for family and friends who must make the decision to follow through on pre-agreed wishes. Taking the agony away from loved ones is one of the benefits of creating a POLST.
The Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a document filled out in collaboration with your primary care physician and signed in advance of a life-threatening event. According to the Ethics for Health Care, Oregon Health & Science University, taking this very important step to include a POLST in your preparedness plan will aid to improve the quality of care you will receive at the end of life:
It is based on effective communication of patient wishes, documentation of medical orders on a brightly colored form and a promise by health care professionals to honor these wishes.
Pre-hospital response teams summoned by the 9-1-1 call will have a plan of action specific to your wishes outlined and available upon their arrival. The same would hold true for first-responders in the home prepared to provide basic life support (as provided by onsite BLS Training).
This simple act can bring added relief to loved ones knowing wishes are honored during this critical and highly emotional time of a person’s life. Consider discussing the POLST with your physician in 2012.