PREPARING FOR DIFFICULT DECISIONS

Take these steps to help communicate your wishes.

There are two forms you and your doctor can fill out so you and your family can be more prepared for difficult decisions: 

  • Advance Directive
  • Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). (The form is also known as “portable orders for life-sustaining treatment.”) 

Legacy also offers help with ethical issues and difficult questions. 

Advance Directive

An Advance Directive is a form that allows you to make your health care wishes known in advance – in case you are unable to speak for yourself.

It allows you to: 

  • Appoint a person to speak for you 
  • Give instructions for health care 

 

Why would I need an Advance Directive?

If you are 18 or older, you should consider having an advance directive. In the event of an injury or illness, you may not be able to speak for yourself. The Advance Directive, prepared before something happens, speaks for you.

Where do I get an Advance Directive form?

You can get one from a health care facility or through Oregon Health Decisions at 503-692-0894 or 1-800-422-4805. Health care providers or lawyers may have the form or may help you get one, but you do not need a lawyer to fill it out or file it.

What do I do next with my Advance Directive? 

Make copies and share it with your health care provider, family members, close friends, spiritual adviser and/or lawyer.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

A Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a form to state your preferences for life-sustaining treatment, giving you more control over the treatments you do or do not want to receive in a medical crisis. It works to guide treatment decisions if you lose the ability to speak for yourself. 
 
The orders address decisions about: 

  • Resuscitation or CPR 
  • The level of medical treatment –– whether to be put on a breathing machine, feeding tube or antibiotics 

While Advance Directives are meant for all patients 18 years or older, POLST is meant for those who are seriously ill or frail. Talk to your doctor about the POLST form.  

For more information, see the POLST websites for Oregon and Washington