Prompted by a state law that took effect this year, a coalition of emergency and social service providers is working to create an electronic registry that will be accessible to first responders and medical providers.
This article first appeared December 7, 2016 on Kaiser Health News.
By Anna Gorman
CONCORD, Calif. — Mary De Freze, who has heart problems, chronic lung disease and a history of falling, knows she may not have too many years left. And she's clear about what she wants — and doesn't want — at the end of her life.
"I don't want to be in a lot of pain and I don't want to be kept alive by machines," said De Freze, 81.
After a recent fall landed De Freze in Stonebrook Healthcare Center with cracked ribs and a bruised spleen, the staff there helped her put those wishes on paper.
The document they used, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST, gives patients a choice of how much medical care they want in an emergency.
Prompted by a state law that took effect this year, a coalition of emergency and social service providers is working to create an electronic registry for POLST forms so they will be available to first responders and medical providers when they are needed. The group is starting with a three-year pilot project in San Diego and Contra Costa counties that could serve as a model for a single, statewide registry. Paper-based POLST forms are used across the nation, but electronic registries exist only in a few states, including Oregon, New York and West Virginia.
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.