The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program first started in Oregon in 1991. POLST was created to address the barriers in the healthcare delivery system as it relates to the care of seriously ill and dying patients. It is a standardized medical order form that indicates which types of life-sustaining treatment a seriously ill patient wants or doesn't want if his or her condition worsens.
The POLST form, signed by both the healthcare professional and the patient, becomes a tool to capture these discussions and make them part of the patient's medical record. The form moves with the patient and must be honored across all settings of care (i.e. hospital, rehab, nursing home, the individual's home, by EMTs and paramedics).
In December 2011, Gov. Chris Christie signed New Jersey's POLST legislation into law. The state is in the process of developing the program.