What is a POLST form?

POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment and is a voluntary form which must be signed by you (or your agent) and your physician, indicating the types of life-sustaining treatment you do (or do not) want if you are seriously ill. POLST clarifies your preferences for CPR, antibiotics, feeding tubes, etc. POLST does not replace your Advance Directive, but when you are seriously ill, it helps to translate your wishes into medical orders which must be followed in all healthcare settings.


What are the primary differences between an Advance Directive and a POLST form?


  • For anyone 18 and older
  • Provides instructions for future treatment
  • Appoints a Health Care Representative
  • Does not guide Emergency Medical Personnel
  • Guides inpatient treatment decisions when made available


  • For persons with serious illness — at any age
  • Provides medical orders for current treatment
  • Guides actions by Emergency Medical Personnel when made available
  • Guides inpatient treatment decisions when made available