Case Management

Sneak peek: Keep your team focused during care coordination rounds

Case Management Weekly, March 30, 2011

To relieve family members of the burden of ­end-of-life decisions, some patients make their wishes known in advance. A new tool that helps ­patients make their wishes known to ­family and care providers is the Physician Orders for ­Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program.

According to the ­California POLST Education Program, a POLST form is a statewide mechanism for individuals to communicate their wishes about a range of ­life-­sustaining and resuscitative measures. Patients complete a form that converts their wishes ­regarding life-­sustaining treatment and resuscitation into ­physician orders that are honored across treatment settings.

Thirteen states and regions of the country have endorsed POLST programs. Several other states are in the process of developing programs.

While it is similar to do not resuscitate (DNR) forms and living wills, a POLST form is more specific, says Todd Cook, MBA, CHCQM, FAIHQ, director of care management at Santa Barbara (CA) ­Cottage Hospital. A POLST form covers a wide array of life-saving treatments, including hospice care, ventilator treatment, and ­feeding tubes. The creators of the POLST form intended that it be reserved for patients who are medically frail, have a serious health condition, or are diagnosed with a chronic progressive illness. The form should be used only for patients physicians expect will die within a year, according to the California POLST Education Program.

Check out the April 2011 issue of Case Management Monthly to learn more. You also can discover the benefits of becoming a Case Management Monthly subscriber.

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