Home > End-of-Life Care, Health legislation > California Foundation Works for Culture Change in End-of-Life Care

California Foundation Works for Culture Change in End-of-Life Care

At Vision Consulting LA, we know first hand the importance of making sure your loved ones and physician know your wishes regarding end-of-life care. 

The predominant U.S. culture, and especially aspects of our high-tech, high-cost health “system,” often seeks to prolong life at the expense of the patient’s real quality of life. Spiritual and emotional considerations may be seen as secondary to extending a patient’s length of life.

In response to this, California Health Care Foundation supported the use of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST); working through community coalitions and legislative advocacy. Developed in Oregon two decades ago, POLST is a standardized medical order form (in California it is printed on bright pink paper) that indicates the specific types of life-sustaining treatment a seriously ill patient does or does not want.  What is unique about this form is that it is signed by the patient and physician and becomes a set of medical orders. And unlike the advanced directive, which is often in a drawer somewhere when it is needed most, the POLST form moves with the patient as part of the medical record and must be honored across all settings of care. Currently, 32 states have implemented POLST or are developing similar programs.

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