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What Is a POLST Form?

What Is a POLST Form?

A POLST form is a document that tells health care professionals what kind of medical treatments you do or do not wish to receive at the end of your life. POLST is short for “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment,” though the document may go by a different name in your state.

How POLST Forms Work

A POLST form is a medical order that a doctor or other approved health care professional may make for you if you are:

  • nearing the end of your life, and
  • admitted to a hospital or enter another health care setting, such as hospice.

The POLST form gives directions to medical providers about life-sustaining treatments, such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), intubation, and feeding tubes. If you move from one health care setting to another, you POLST form will travel with you.

To be valid, health care provider who helps you make the POLST must sign the form and place it in your medical records. It will be printed on brightly colored paper so it can’t easily be overlooked.

Why You Still Need a Living Will

Even though a POLST form addresses many of the same issues covered by a DNR order and a living will, it is not a complete substitute for a properly prepared set of advance directives.

You cannot, for example, use a POLST form to name a health care agent to carry out your health care wishes. For that, you need a durable power of attorney for health care. Nor can you make a POLST form in advance -- while you are healthy -- to specify your treatment wishes for the future. To do that, you need a living will.

How to Get a POLST Form

POLSTs are not yet available in all states. Where they are used, they may go by another name, such as POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment), MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), or COLST (Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment).

If New Mexico offers a POLST or similar form, you can find out what it is called and learn more about it by clicking the link below. If New Mexico is not on this list, see the end of this article for more information.

Alaska's Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

California's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Colorado's Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

Connecticut's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Form

Delaware's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

D.C. Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

Georgia's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Hawaii's Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Idaho's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Form

Illinois's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POST) Form

Indiana's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Form

Iowa's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (IPOST) Form

Kansas's Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) Form

Kentucky's Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

Louisiana's Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (LaPOST) Form

Maine's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Maryland's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

Massachusetts's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

Michigan's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Form

Minnesota's Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Mississippi's Physician Order for Sustaining Treatment (POST) Form

Missouri's Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) Form

Montana's Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Nevada's Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

New Hampshire's Provider Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

New Mexico's Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

New York's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

North Carolina's Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form

Oregon's Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Pennsylvania's Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Rhode Island's Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

Tennessee's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Form

Utah's Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Vermont's Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (COLST) Form

Washington's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

West Virginia's Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Form

Wisconsin's Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Wyoming's Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

What to Do If Your State Doesn’t Offer a POLST Form

If your state isn't listed above, you should make advance directives to ensure your health care wishes are known and followed at the end of your life. Taken together, a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and DNR order cover all the issues in a POLST form, and more.

For more information about making advance directives, see What New Mexico Residents Need to Know About Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

To learn about DNR Orders, see How Do I Get a DNR Order in New Mexico?


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