What Is a Texas Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment?

Thinking about end-of-life treatment is often stressful and overwhelming. However, planning ahead can often be the difference between having a medical professional follow your wishes and risking the alternative. A way to keep control over medical care is by filling out a Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. A POLST form provides important medical decisions for emergency medical personnel to follow. The order can be applied at any place of treatment and includes decisions like whether or not to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Below are common explanations about POLST forms and their necessity for those engaging in the Houston estate planning process.

What is a POLST Form?

A POLST form is a physician order set that travels with a patient from one place of treatment to another. The form discusses the patient’s preferred method of treatment, specifically regarding CPR status, intensity, and use of additional methods like antibiotics. The individual fills out the form and it is signed by a physician. When the patient is transferred to another location—or is discharged—the form literally goes with them.

Until recently, Texas did not offer POLST forms to fill out. However, now Texas offers a POLST form for individuals.

The form asks the following questions:

  1. if they have no pulse and are not breathing, would they like to be resuscitated;
  2. if they have a pulse and are breathing, do they want comfort measures, limited additional interventions, or full treatment;
  3. would they like to be proscribed antibiotics;
  4. what type—if any—of medically administered fluids and nutrition should be administered;
  5. who these medical decisions should be discussed with.

A POLST form is not the same as an advance healthcare directive, which individuals should also fill out. A POLST form is a physician order that can be utilized to turn the preferences expressed in an advance directive into medical orders. However, individuals need not have an advance directive to complete a POLST form. Having a completed POLST form is intended to improve communication between different sites of treatment, like a hospital and nursing home. This is to ensure the treatment wished by the patient is delivered, especially since this treatment is normally near the end of a person’s life.

Who Should Have a POLST Form?

POLST forms are recommended for individuals who have been hospitalized in the past or who are aging and might encounter health problems in the future. Specifically, POLST forms are highly encouraged for hospitalized patients who are being discharged to nursing homes as well as nursing home residents themselves. However, even if an individual isn’t ill, it does not hurt to fill out a POLST form and be prepared for the future.

Because POLST forms are new in Texas—and they involve life-altering decisions—individuals should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to help fill out the form and determine the right treatment decisions for them.

Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney

For individuals interested in creating a POLST form for themselves or their loved ones, contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. With years of experience creating estate plans, medical forms, and other critical health care directives. Planning for your future—especially when it comes to your health and medical decisions—is vital, and we are here to help ease the burden and stress. To speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today and to schedule a consultation, call us at 713-333-8900.

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