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Navigating Your Healthcare Choices with POLST in Arizona

What is a POLST in Arizona?  Healthcare decisions are deeply personal, and when facing serious illness, it’s crucial to have your treatment preferences known and respected. In Arizona, one of the ways you can ensure your healthcare wishes are followed is through a POLST form.

Understanding POLST in Arizona

POLST, which stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, is a medical order that outlines a seriously ill patient’s preferences for life-sustaining treatments. In Arizona, the POLST form is designed to ensure that patients receive the medical treatment they prefer at the end of life or in situations where they cannot speak for themselves.

How Does POLST Differ from an Advance Directive?

While an advance directive is a legal document that outlines a person’s general wishes regarding end-of-life care, a POLST form is a medical order that translates those wishes into actionable physician orders. A POLST complements an advance directive and is particularly useful in emergency medical situations.

The POLST Process in Arizona

  • Discussion: The process begins with a conversation between the patient and their healthcare provider. It’s crucial to have a thorough discussion about the patient’s diagnosis, treatment options, and goals for care.
  • Completion: If the patient decides to complete a POLST form, the healthcare provider will fill it out based on the patient’s wishes. This includes decisions about resuscitation, medical interventions, antibiotics, and artificially administered nutrition.
  • Signature: In Arizona, the completed POLST form must be signed by both the patient (or their legally recognized decision-maker) and the healthcare provider to be valid.
  • Accessibility: Once signed, the POLST form should be kept in a location where it can be easily accessed by emergency personnel, like on the refrigerator or in the patient’s medical records.

When Should You Consider a POLST Form?

A POLST form is appropriate for individuals with serious health conditions when:

  • A healthcare provider would not be surprised if they died within the next year.
  • They have strong preferences about what medical treatments they want or do not want.

Updating or Revoking a POLST

A POLST form can be updated or revoked at any time to reflect a change in the patient’s health status or treatment preferences. To make changes, the patient should discuss their wishes with a healthcare provider, who will then complete a new POLST form.

The Role of POLST in Estate Planning

Including a POLST form in your estate plan is a way to ensure that your healthcare wishes are known and can be acted upon immediately by healthcare professionals. It’s an essential part of the conversation with your estate planning attorney, especially if you are facing a serious illness.

A POLST form is a powerful tool for those in Arizona living with serious illnesses. By clearly articulating your treatment preferences, you can maintain control over your healthcare decisions and ensure that they are respected, even when you might not be able to communicate them yourself.

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