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Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

What is POLST?

POLST stands for Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. In some states it is called by a different name such as POST, MOLST, MOST, etc. Important questions and answers about POLST can be read by clicking here.

End-of-Life Information and Resources: Advance Directives

What to Do…
  1. Designate someone to make decisions when you can’t.When you can’t make decisions on your own, someone who knows you well and our Catholic values can speak with your doctor to understand the actual medical situation to make the best decisions, in the moment.
  2. Create a Protective Medical Decision Document that will enable your decision maker to speak on your behalf should the need arise.
  3. Decline forms that are signed medical orders, (like POLST).Medical orders that are signed by a provider or physician are like prescriptions. They don’t have to be reviewed if your condition changes for better or worse. They are simply carried out.

Recent CMA POLST Video

Click on the image below to watch a recent Catholic Medical Association video on POLST.

Recent CMA Article on POLST

Bala Cynwyd, PA—The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) has published a White Paper on POLST in the Linacre Quarterly, CMA’s journal of medical ethics. POLST (an acronym for “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment”) is a new kind of advanced medical decision-making document that is spreading rapidly across the United States as a result of an organized campaign.

The Catholic Medical Association brought together a multidisciplinary team of physicians, healthcare professionals, and attorneys to study POLST, and the programs and training that implement it (the “POLST paradigm”). The resulting White Paper, titled “The POLST paradigm and form: Facts and analysis,” reviews the origin and stated goals of the POLST program, analyzes a wide range of arguments favoring or opposing POLST, and examines whether the POLST paradigm will provide real solutions to challenges faced by patients and families trying to make good decisions regarding end-of-life care.

Indeed, the White Paper identifies some significant problems posed by POLST, and makes practical recommendations about how to promote decision-making for vulnerable patients that is medically and ethically sound, and consistent with the Catholic Church’s teachings on respect for human life.

This White Paper should be of interest to Catholic healthcare institutions and professionals, bishops and pastors, patients and families, policymakers, and all interested in promoting quality clinical care and ethical decision-making, especially for vulnerable patients. A PDF copy of the White Paper can be downloaded by clicking the PDF icon above.

People and patients looking for practical resources for making advanced medical decisions should consider:

Linacre Article – May 2011

To read “A Critique of the National POLST Paradigm through an Analysis of
Colorado’s New MOST Legislation”, please on the article to the right:

NCBC Article – January 2012

To read an Ethics and Medics article posted by the National Catholic Bioethics Center on “POLST and Catholic Health Care”, please click here.

Informed: Life is Worth Living

For more information visit Pro-life Healthcare Alliance, please click here.

Other Resources on Catholic Teaching