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Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

In 1991, leading medical ethicists in Oregon discovered that patient preferences for end-of-life care were not consistently honored. Recognizing that advance directives were inadequate for the patients with serious illness or frailty — who frequently require emergency medical care — a group of stakeholders developed a new tool for honoring patients’ wishes for end-of-life treatment. After several years of evaluation, the program became known as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). In 2024, the form's name was amended to Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) when the change was made that the forms can now be signed by an attending advanced practice registered nurse or attending physician assistant, in addition to a physician.

National POLST is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization that organizes the effort to standardize the POLST process, form, and education throughout the U.S., since POLST varies from state to state.  In September 2004, the National POLST Advisory Panel, later known as the National POLST Paradigm Task Force, convened to establish quality standards for POLST forms and programs and to assist states in developing POLST as a model process (or “paradigm”). 

Alaska POLST is Alaska's statewide participating program of the National POLST. It is led by healthcare partners from across Alaska including Alaska Hospital and Healthcare Association (AHHA), Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and clinicians from hospitals and long-term care facilities who work collaboratively to develop and distribute POLST materials, resources, and information for patients, their families, and healthcare providers.

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