Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

A Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form (formerly called the EMS – No CPR form) is intended for any adult, 18 years of age or older, with serious health conditions.

The POLST form accomplishes two major purposes:

  1.  It is portable from one care setting to another.
  2.  It translates wishes of an individual into actual medical orders.


Why should I make a POLST?

The truth is that health care providers frequently ignore advance directives, and the law isn’t much help. No state forces a doctor or hospital to follow instructions in an advance directive. POLST, however, represents your wishes as clear medical orders. POLST improves your chances of getting what you want and avoiding what you do not want at the end of life. We recommend POLST to all our clients.

You (or your health care agent) and your medical provider may use POLST to write clear and specific medical orders that indicate what types of life-sustaining treatment you want or do not want at the end of life. Both the patient and a provider must sign the bright green form in order for it to be honored by other health care professionals.

Ten tips for a peaceful death in a hospital or long-term-care facility

Although most Americans say they would prefer to die at home, about two-thirds will die in a hospital, nursing home, or other long-term care facility. For most patients, remaining home for the last days of life is best for peaceful dying. Unfortunately, this is not possible for everyone. If you or someone you are caring for is likely to die in a medical facility, here are ten tips that can help enable a better, more peaceful death.

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 No witnessing or notarizing is required.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel are required to honor POLST, and it remains with you if you are transported between care settings.

The POLST form is relatively new in Washington, and many health care providers are still unaware of it. If your provider does not have POLST forms available, ask them to contact the Washington State Medical Association to request POLST forms.

Properly completed, the POLST form is probably the most effective advance directive because your wishes are expressed as medical orders.

*For more information about the POLST form, visit the Washington State Medical Association’s website. 

Learn more

POLST forms and information brochures can be obtained from your medical provider,  or you can request a POLST form by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Washington State Medical Association, Attn: POLST, 2001 6th Ave., Suite 2700, Seattle, WA 98121.