By: Gina L. Campanella, Esq, FACHE
In 1991, the National POLST Paradigm is formed in Oregon as a result of medical ethicists discovery that patients end-of-life wishes were not consistently honored. POLST stands for Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. The initiative quickly spread to other states and some of the first states to form their own programs included New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In September of 2004 the National POLST Paradigm Task Force (NPPTF) convened on an informal basis with original members from New York Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Thereafter, talks began on an informal basis with the purpose of exchanging ideas for state programs. Standards for state POLST programs were developed and the National POLST Office offers support and resources to all state POLST programs. More information about POLST programs across the country can be found here: http://www.polst.org/
New Jersey’s POLST program is currently a “Developing” program. It was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie in December 2011. The New Jersey Program website can be found here: http://www.njha.com/quality-patient-safety/advanced-care-planning/polst/ The site contains training materials, sample forms, educational materials for patients and providers and general information and guidance for the New Jersey POLST Program.
There is a reason the “P” in POLST stands for Practitioner and not Physician. Prior to September of this year, the POLST forms must have been signed by the patient and the patient’s physician or APN. Last month, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law adding PA’s to the list of practitioners who can co-sign a New Jersey POLST, the law immediately became effective on effective September 1, 2019.