Part 3. Advance Care Planning
This is the Third Article in our Basics of Estate Planning series. In this article, we will explain options for health care decision making. We will talk about two documents that allow you to express your wishes when you are not able to. The first are legal documents call advance directives. The second are medical orders call Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST.)
The Oregon Health Care Decisions Act (ORS Chapter 127) allows Oregonians to create Advance Directives for Health Care, Powers of Attorney, Declarations for Mental Health Treatment and other documents. Advance Directives are legal documents.
Advanced directives allow a person to decide their treatment wishes while they are still able. They also allow you to appoint a healthcare representative to direct your health care when you are unable to do so. You can also place limits on the decisions that your Healthcare Representative can make for you. For example, you may have certain religious or ethical beliefs that you want taken into account when life-sustaining decisions are being made and that your Healthcare Representative should honor your wishes.
Advanced directives also allow you to make decisions about specific medical conditions and treatments. Below is an excerpt from an Advanced Directive:
In this example, you have an Advanced Progressive illness and are very unlikely to substantially improve. Importantly, you are unable to communicate and someone else will have to make medical decisions for you. With the Advance Directive you can choose the care you desire in this situation by initialing the form.
The State of Oregon has information regarding Advance Directives and an Advance Directive form available online (http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/insurance/shiba/topics/Pages/advancedirectives.aspx)
Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
A POLST is an optional form that you create with your health care provider. A POLST is a medical order that must be signed by a health care professional in order to be valid. A POLST is typically used by those that are seriously ill or are near the end of life.
A POLST will tell medical professionals whether you want CPR, tube feeding or any other medical interventions that may sustain life.