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California Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment


End-of-life issues are never easy to talk about, but the fact is that they must be discussed when an elderly parent is ill and facing certain quality of life concerns. Prolonging life through the use of ventilators and feeding tubes is a scenario that few want to happen to them, but unfortunately, without proper legal documentation, that type of scenario can happen – and is difficult to reverse once put in place. Like other states, California acknowledges that many people do not wish to live strictly through artificial means, and has adopted a legal form to help the sick and elderly keep control over their wishes during the end of life.

In California, there is a form called a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). This form instructs health care professionals about the type of resuscitative efforts and end-of-life care that can be used on a person, and is often paired with a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR). A DNR only concerns resuscitation efforts, such as CPR, while a POLST form covers feed tubes, ventilators, and other end-of-life treatments that some may want to avoid. POLST forms are typically created at a hospital or nursing home, but it’s a good idea to consult an elder law attorney to ensure that end-of-life wishes are properly documented in the form.

For a more complete set of protections concerning end-of-life care, however, you should consult with the Law Offices of Gerald L. Kane, a San Fernando Valley elder law attorney, to discuss traditional advance health care directives, such as a living will and a health care agent designation. These documents allow health care providers to have a clearer understanding of your wishes outside of emergency situations, as well as your decisions concerning organ donation and who should make health care decisions in your place if you are incapacitated and cannot direct your own care. An elder law attorney can discuss all the options available to you concerning advance health care directives, including who should be named as a health care agent and in what order, what life-sustaining measures you want or do not want, and how your advance health care directive can work with a DNR and POLST form.

If you would like to learn more about Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment in California, or discuss options for advance health care directives, please call Gerry Kane to set up an appointment at our San Fernando Valley elder law office by calling (818) 905-6088.