POLST Progress in Oregon

12/01/18 at 08:56 AM by Cordt Kassner

The following story is taken from Hospice News Today, 12/1/18. Great POLST progress in Oregon, with some thoughts about how this progress has been made! The JPM article referenced can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30484728

What we can learn from POLST data—Daily Editors’ Notes
By Elizabeth Newman, Senior Editor
McKnight’s Long Term Care News
November 30, 2018

On the heels of my colleague James M. Berklan’s discussion about how little we know about our loved ones’ preferences for end-of-life care, there’s a sign of progress in Oregon. It comes down to a form. In 2010-2011, only a third of Oregonians died that year had filled out a Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, according to an analysis from the Journal of Palliative Medicine. By 2015-2016, that had risen to 45%. Researchers looked at the database of state death certificates and Oregon POLST forms. … Still, the change can reflect some broader trends. For one, most states have increasing numbers of baby boomers, and people living over age 95. Those closing in on their centennial birthdays in Oregon increased their use of POLST forms by 83% over the five-year timeframe. Those between the ages of 45 to 64 increased their use of the form by 19%. Interestingly, POLST can yield some surprises, such as who wants medical care. Around 13% of POLST form writers who died between 2015-2016 requested CPR, a jump from 8% five years earlier. Similarly, 11% requested “full medical treatment,” up 5% from the previous years. Finally, those with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are completing POLST forms earlier than in their final year of life, according to study co-author Susan Tolle, M.D. There are a slew of factors to consider here: One, better communication about the progression about these diseases, along with prompt diagnosis. Two, while there is no cure for either disease, Parkinson’s in particular has a variety of treatment options that may prolong life, but provoke a discussion about how much treatment the person wants. The researchers also found that the length of time between when people filled out the form and died leapfrogged from an average of 5 weeks to 21 weeks. If you think about the things you’ll do in five weeks compared to five months, that’s a big difference. The big takeaway for long-term care providers is making sure the correct residents are introduced to the form.

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