POLST Legislation Gains Support, Poised for Passage in 2019-20

The Pennsylvania Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a tool for translating patients’ goals for treatment into medical orders at the end of life. However, legislation is needed to empower healthcare providers such as EMTs to recognize and honor a patient’s POLST when life-sustaining care is needed. Without “codifying” POLST in this way, the patient risks having his or her final wishes disregarded by caregivers or physicians, or changed at the last minute by concerned family members.

A broad coalition of healthcare providers and community stakeholders, including Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA), has been working for years to develop legislation in Pennsylvania that would elevate the power of POLST and ensure the patient’s wishes are followed.Key stakeholders in this group include the Hospital and Health system of Pennsylvania, Catholic Conference, LeadingAge PA, Jewish Foundation for Quality End of Life, College of Emergency Physicians, and County Nursing Homes. This legislation was finally introduced in 2018 and started making its way through the legislative process before the two-year legislative session ended.

PHA members reached out to their local legislators to discuss the importance of protecting patient preferences at the end of life. Advocacy will continue in the new legislative session in 2019 when the legislation is reintroduced.

*From Pennsylvania Homecare Association