POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. It is
a type of advance directive that is designed to give seriously ill patients
the ability to say what type of life sustaining treatment they prefer.
The options range from comfort care only to full scale interventions.
One of the key differences between POLST and some of the other Florida
advance directives that you may be familiar with (such as the designation
of healthcare surrogate and living will), is that POLST is an actual medical
order signed by a health care provider.
POLST can be taken by the patient from their house, to the hospital or
to the long-term care facility so that the same medical order that they
know captures their wishes can be seen and followed in all the health
POLST is not yet authorized for use on a statewide basis in Florida (Florida
is described as a state with a developing POLST program on the
www.polst.org website) but POLST is being test piloted in various health care settings
around the state. In Pinellas County, it is being test piloted by Suncoast Hospice.
In a recent blog, Project Grace Executive Director Tracy Christner explains
more about how POLST works and why Suncoast Hospice has chosen to participate
in the POLST test pilot program (
It is going to be interesting to hear from the test pilot sites about whether
patients, as well as their families, feel that POLST can indeed allow
them to better direct their individual visions about how their end of
life journeys should occur.