New York's Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Form

A MOLST form describes your wishes for health care in a medical emergency.

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You may have heard about a new kind of health care directive in New York, called a Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. Here, we discuss what a MOLST form is and when you might need one.

What Is a MOLST Form?

A MOLST form is a doctor’s order that helps you keep control over medical care at the end of life. Like a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, the form tells emergency medical personnel and other health care providers whether or not to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. A MOLST form may be used in addition to -- or, sometimes, instead of -- a DNR order. The MOLST form may also provide other information about your wishes for end-of-life health care, as explained below.

How to Make a MOLST Form

A health care professional can help you create a MOLST form if you enter a medical facility or health care setting -- such as a hospital, nursing home, or hospice care in a facility or at home. To be legally valid, a MOLST form must be signed by a doctor. If a member of the medical staff does not ask you whether you want to create a MOLST form, you may ask for one.

In New York, a MOLST form is usually printed on bright pink paper so it will easily stand out in your medical records. The form travels with you if you move from one health care setting to another. You can change it or cancel it at any time.

How Does a MOLST Form Differ From Other Health Care Directives?

A MOLST form differs from a DNR order in one important way: A MOLST form also includes directions about life-sustaining measures in addition to CPR, such as intubation, antibiotic use, and feeding tubes. The MOLST form helps medical providers understand your wishes at a glance, but it is not a substitute for a properly prepared Living Will and Health Care Proxy.

Taken together, a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy can provide more information than a MOLST form, including details about your health care agent, more complete health care wishes, and your preference for organ donation. Therefore, if you have a MOLST form, you do not need a DNR order, but you should still complete these two important health care directives to provide a full set of wishes about your care.

For more information about making health care directives, see New York Living Wills and Health Care Proxies: What You Need to Know.

For More Information

To learn more, and to view an example of the New York MOLST form, visit New York’s Compassion and Support website.

For general information about how to document your health care wishes, see the Living Wills & Medical Powers of Attorney section of Nolo.com.

For more on New York estate planning issues, see our section on New York Estate Planning.

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