We found an encouraging story from the Wall Street Journal that says patients who document their final wishes in POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) forms are getting the End-of-Life care they want. The story cites a recent study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that is the largest (and first) study to compare a patient’s final wishes with where they actually pass away. Of the 58,000 people in the study who passed away, 18,000 (30%) had a POLST in place. “Almost everyone in our study who wanted to avoid an unwanted terminal hospitalization, as long as their comfort could be managed, got their wish,” said Susan Tolle, lead author of the study and director of the Center for Ethics in Health Care. “There is a remarkable association between where you die and the orders selected on your POLST form.” The voluntary POLST form has currently been adopted in nearly 43 states; it empowers patients to accept or refuse specific medical treatments. Unlike Advance Directives (or Living Wills) where healthy patients make their End-of-Life wishes known, POLST forms are for seriously ill patients. “While there have been many efforts to improve End-of-Life care in the U.S., the POLST program seems to be effective in achieving a patient’s End-of-Life wishes,” said Mark Siegler, director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Once a POLST is signed by the patient and physician the form becomes a standing medical order on record. In Oregon where the study took place, patients can choose to have their POLST form stored in a secure online registry that healthcare provides can quickly access. POLST programs also train healthcare providers to discuss End-of-Life treatment choices with sick patients and include general protections for medical personnel who follow them. Carlos Rivera, a 72-year-old with advanced heart disease, signed a POLST form that includes a do-not-resuscitate order. “It takes the load off my family and relieves them of fighting over what to do,” said Rivera. “People have the right to determine their own destiny.” Read the full story here.