POLSTAT: The New Physician Guided End of Life Form
Oklahoma recently enacted the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment Act (POLSTAT). This new law creates a physician order form meant to give patients greater control over end of life circumstances. POLSTAT laws have been adopted by over forty (40) states and began in Oregon in 1991.
Generally, POLSTAT forms give a clearer picture of end of life wishes than Advance Directives and Healthcare Powers of Attorney. Unlike Advanced Directives and POAs the POLSTAT must be signed by a physician. Although the form is new, POLSTAT forms should not be viewed as a replacement for Advanced Directives or Healthcare Powers of Attorney. The POLSTAT does not allow for the appointment of an agent or proxy to act on behalf of a patient when incapacitated. Instead, POLSTAT forms should be viewed as a compliment to previously executed healthcare documents. Furthermore, POLSTAT forms are only intended for people in frail or near-death circumstances.
POLSTAT forms are uniform and should be printed on bright pink paper with the goal of ensuring that the document is easily found. Physicians should review the POLSTAT form in conjunction with patients and assist in making decisions. Physicians are not required to help a patient create a POLSTAT and will not have liability for following a POLSTAT in good faith.