An advance directive is a written statement about your future medical care. It is a gift to family members and friends so that they won’t have to guess what you want if you no longer can speak for yourself. The AD can provide a significant amount of detail about an individual’s wishes and preferences for treatment. In addition, the AD is the most common mechanism for designating a surrogate decision maker.
POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) is a physician’s order that gives patients more control over their end-of-life care. It specifies the types of treatments that a patient wishes to receive towards the end of life. Completing a POLST form encourages communication between healthcare providers and patients, enabling patients to make more informed decisions. The POLST form documents those decisions in a clear manner and can be quickly understood by all providers, including first responders and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. As a result, the patient’s wishes can be honored across all settings of care.
Information on Advance Directives and POLST and free forms can be downloaded from Kokua Mau’s Web site, www.kokuamau.org. Additional details available from the state Executive Office on Aging site: http://hawaii.gov/health/eoa/index.html and from the University of Hawaii Elder Law Program, www.hawaii.edu/uhelp.