OHSU study finds that POLST forms honor patients’ wishes

Erik Fromme, M.D., reviewing a POLST form with a patient
Erik Fromme, M.D., reviewing a POLST form with a patient

A new study published by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University shows that the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment program–commonly known as POLST–is effective in honoring end-of-life wishes for frail or seriously ill patients. By reviewing death records from 58,000 Oregonians, the researchers found that only 6.4% of patients who asked for comfort measures only on their POLST form died in a hospital, whereas 44.2% of patients who asked for full medical treatment died in a hospital. These data show that using the POLST form limited hospitalizations for patients who preferred to die at home.

The study, which was authored by Erik Fromme, M.D., a palliative care specialist with the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU, and Susan Tolle, M.D., director of the Center for Ethics in Health Care and professor in the OHSU School of Medicine, has gained attention from local and national media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and The Oregonian.

View the OHSU news release or journal article to learn more.