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About Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Forms

A POLST form helps you get the end-of-life treatment you want. Find out more about POLST, POST, MOLST, and MOST forms in your state.

By , Attorney

Updated April 11, 2022

In recent years, more and more states have adopted a tool that allows you to express your wishes for end-of-life care. Nearly all states (see the chart at the end of this article) now allow you to keep doctor-signed orders in your medical records. These brightly colored documents—most often called POLST forms—are meant to travel with you when you move between health facilities, and clearly and briefly lay out your preferences for medical treatment when you're close to the end of your life.

What Does POLST (or POST, MOLST, or MOST) Stand For?

POLST forms are orders that are signed by a qualified medical professional. As such, you'll usually see the term "physician order" or "medical order" in the terminology used. Here are some of the more common acronyms used by different states:

  • POLST: Physician (or sometimes Provider or Practitioner) Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment
  • POST: Physician Order for Scope of Treatment
  • MOLST: Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment
  • MOST: Medical Order for Scope of Treatment
  • TPOPP: Transportable Physician Order for Patient Preferences

Though the forms go by different names in different states, their purpose remains the same.

What Is a POLST Form?

A POLST form is an order signed by your doctor or another health care professional that gathers together your most significant wishes for end-of-life-care. This order is placed in your medical records and is "portable"—meaning it typically travels to any health care setting (like a hospital or hospice) with you. In most states, a POLST form is printed on brightly colored paper (usually pink or green) so it will easily stand out in a patient's files.

A POLST form includes directions to medical providers about life-sustaining measures, including:

  • Whether you want a provider to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Whether you want intubation, antibiotic use, and IV fluids, and
  • Whether you want medically assisted nutrition, such as feeding tubes.

Those who make POLST forms are typically close to death due to age or serious medical conditions. While everyone should have an advance health care directive (discussed below), not everyone needs a POLST form.

POLST Forms vs. Health Care Directives vs. DNR Orders

If POLST forms sound like other health care documents, that's because they do have some overlapping functions. But there are differences.

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Orders

DNR orders tell medical providers not to administer CPR in the event of a medical emergency. Most state POLST (or MOLST) forms include a DNR section—where you can state whether you want CPR to be attempted. However, POLST forms are more comprehensive in that they address other medical treatments as well.

In many states, POLST forms are now used instead of, or in addition to, DNR orders. (Note that in Texas, if you state in your MOST form that you do not want to be resuscitated, you'll also need to complete a DNR order and attach it to your MOST form.)

Advance Health Care Directives

POLST forms also cover some of the same topics addressed by a health care directive. (A health care directive also goes by many names, depending on your state. For example, some states use the term "advance directive." Other states use two separate documents, often called a "living will" and a "medical power of attorney." You can check what term your state uses for a health care directive.)

However, a POLST form is not meant to be a substitute for a properly prepared health care directive. POLST forms are often used in emergency situations, and as a result are shorter and cover fewer circumstances. Health care directives allow you to do more than POLST forms. For example, one of the most important functions of a health care directive is the ability to appoint a health care agent to oversee your medical care and to specify your wishes for life-sustaining care far into the future. This helps ensure that someone will be available to make health care decisions on your behalf, including decisions you might not have anticipated.

Every adult should have an advance health care directive. (To make one, try WillMaker, which you can use to create a health care directive and other estate planning documents that are valid in your state.)

How to Make a POLST Form

When you enter a hospital, hospice, or other health care setting, a member of the staff may ask whether you want to complete a POLST form. If you do, you'll discuss your health care wishes, and the medical provider will complete the form. To make the form valid, you (or your health care agent) must sign it, and the provider must sign it, too.

If no one asks you whether you want to complete a POLST, you can also ask for one. As long as the form is available in your state or in the facility where you are receiving care, a staff member can help you with it. To view a sample POLST form from your state, see the chart below.

POLST Forms in Your State

You can look up your state's POLST information in the chart below. You'll find the specific terminology (such as POLST, POST, MOLST, MOST, COLST, TPOPP) your state uses, as well as relevant state laws. You'll also find links to sample POLST forms in your state.

State Does State Have a POLST Form? State Statute Name of Form Links to State Forms and More Information
Alabama Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Alabama currently uses the national POLST form. Alabama also has a similar document called a portable physician DNAR order.
Alaska Yes Alaska Admin. Code tit. 7, §§ 16.010 to 16.090 Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) See the Alaska state website on the POLST and the Alaska POLST form.
Arizona Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Arizona uses the national POLST form.
Arkansas Yes Ark. Code Ann. §§ 20-6-301 to 29-6-312 Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) See the Arkansas Department of Health's POLST resources and the Arkansas POLST form.
California Yes Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4780 to 4786 Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) See the California EMS Authority's English-version POLST form, as well as the California POLST form in other languages.
Colorado Yes Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 15-18.7-101 to 15-18.7-110 Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) See the Center for Improving Value in Health Care's Colorado MOST resources and the Colorado MOST form.
Connecticut Yes Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 19a-580h Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Connecticut's Department of Health has FAQs and other resources on MOLST, as well as a Connecticut MOLST form.
D.C Yes Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, §§ 2501A to 2520A Delaware Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (DMOST) The Delaware Quality of Life Coalition has FAQs, instructions, and other resources on DMOST, as well as a DMOST form.
Delaware Yes D.C. Code §§ 21-2221.01 to 21-2221.15 Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) DC Health has more information on MOST, as well as a MOST form.
Florida Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) For more information, see the Florida POLST website and the Florida POLST form.
Georgia Yes Ga. Code Ann. § 31-1-14 Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Georgia Department of Public Health has a Georgia POLST form. More resources are available at the Georgia POLST Collaborative.
Hawaii Yes Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 327K-1 to 327K-4 Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Kokua Mau (Hawaii's lead agency for POLST) has more information on POLST, as well as a Hawaii POLST form.
Idaho Yes Idaho Code §§ 39-4512A to 39-4514 Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Here's a sample Idaho POST form.
Illinois Yes 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 40/65 Practitioner Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Illinois Department of Public Health has more info on the POLST, as well as an Illinois POLST form.
Indiana Yes Ind. Code Ann. §§ 16-36-6-1 to 16-36-6-21 Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) For more information on the Indiana POST, visit the Indiana Patient Preferences Coalition. An Indiana POST form is available from the Indiana Forms Catalog (search for form 55317).
Iowa Yes Iowa Code Ann. §§ 144D.1 to 144D.4 Iowa Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (IPOST) The Iowa Department of Public Health has more information, as well as an IPOST form.
Kansas Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) The Center for Practical Bioethics coordinates the TPOPP program in both Kansas and Missouri. Find a TPOPP form at TPOPP Wichita.
Kentucky Yes Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 311.6225, 311.623 Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) The Kentucky MOST Coalition has more information, as well as a sample Kentucky MOST form.
Louisiana Yes La. Stat. Ann. §§ 40:1155.1 to 40:1155.6 Louisiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (LaPOST) See more information about the LaPOST Program, including links to the LaPOST form in a few languages.
Maine Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) See more information about POLST Maine, including a sample Maine POLST form.
Maryland Yes Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen. § 5-608.1 Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) See more information about the Maryland MOLST and the Maryland MOLST form.
Massachusetts Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Find more information about the Massachusetts MOLST program, as well as MOLST forms.
Michigan Yes Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 333.5671 to 333.5685 Michigan Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (MI POST) The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services offers more information and a link to a MI POST form.
Minnesota Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Minnesota Medical Association has further information, videos, and a link to the Minnesota POLST.
Mississippi Yes Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-41-301 to 41-41-303 Physician Order for Sustaining Treatment (POST) See the Mississippi POST form at the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure.
Missouri Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) The Center for Practical Bioethics coordinates the TPOPP program in both Kansas and Missouri. See a sample TPOPP form at TPOPP Wichita.
Montana Yes Mont. Admin. R. 37.10.101 to 37.10.108 Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) See a sample Montana POLST form.
Nebraska No
Note that although Nebraska did operate some pilot programs, the state did not conform to National POLST Paradigm standards and lacked a uniform approach.
Nevada Yes Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 449A.500 to 449A.581 Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Find more information and FAQs about the Nevada POLST, as well as POLST forms.
New Hampshire Yes N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 137-J:1 to 137-J:33 and §§ 137-L:1 to 137-L:8 Provider Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) For more information and FAQs, visit the Foundation for Healthy Communities, which coordinates New Hampshire's POLST program.
New Jersey Yes N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 26:2H-129 to 26:2H-140 Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The New Jersey Department of Health has more information Information and links to New Jersey POLST forms (in several languages).
New Mexico Yes N.M. Stat. Ann. § 24-7A-1 et seq.; N.M. Admin. Code 7.27.6.7 et seq. Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Find more information on the New Mexico POST program, as well as the New Mexico POST form.
New York Yes N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 10, § 400.21; N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2994-dd Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) The New York Department of Health has more information and checklists, as well as the New York MOLST form.
North Carolina Yes N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-21.17 Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Find out more information at North Carolina Partnership for Compassionate Care. And see a sample North Carolina MOST form.
North Dakota Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Honoring Choices North Dakota has further Information and FAQs, as well as a North Dakota POLST form.
Ohio Yes, but note that Ohio has not yet adopted MOLST statewide. MOLST is available in some areas of the state. Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) For more information and news, visit LeadingAge Ohio. For a sample form, see the Cincinatti Area MOLST form.
Oklahoma Yes Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 63, §§ 3105.1 to 3105.5 Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Find out more about the OkPOLST program, including an OkPOLST form.
Oregon Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. However, Oregon statutes and regulations do provide for a POLST registry. (See Or. Rev. Stat. § 127.663 et seq. and OAR 333-270-0010 et seq.) Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Oregon POLST Coalition has more information and FAQs, as well as links to sample forms in different languages.
Pennsylvania Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Visit PA Polst for more information about the state program. And see the POLST form developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Rhode Island Yes R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 23-4.11-2, 23-4.11-3.1 Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) More information on the Rhode Island MOLST is available at the Rhode Island Department of Health. See the Rhode Island MOLST form.
South Carolina Yes S.C. Code §§ 44-80-10 to 44-80-120 Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) The South Carolina Department of Health has more information on the SC POST, including the South Carolina POST form.
South Dakota Yes S.D. Codified Laws §§ 34-12H-1 to 34-12H-12 Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) More information on the South Dakota MOST is available at the SD Department of Health. See a South Dakota MOST form.
Tennessee Yes Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-11-224 Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) The Tennessee Department of Health has more information and FAQs on the Tennessee POST, including the Tennessee POST form.
Texas Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Texas also has a document called an "out-of-hospital DNR order" (OOH-DNR). If you check "do not resuscitate" on your MOST, you'll need to fill out a separate OOHDNR and attach it to your MOST. (See Guide to Completion of Texas MOST.) See more information on the Texas MOST, as well as more information on the OOH-DNR.
Utah Yes Utah Code §§ 75-2a-103, 75-2a-106 Provider Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
(Previously called a "life with dignity order," but renamed in 2021.)
The Utah Department of Health has links to more information, as well as the Utah POLST form.
Vermont Yes 18 V.S.A. §§ 9701, 9708, 9709 Do-Not-Resuscitate/Clinician Orders
for Life-Sustaining Treatment (DNR/COLST)
Vermont's Department of Health has more information and a link to the Vermont POLST form.
Virginia Yes 12 Va. Admin. Code 5-66-10 Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) The Virginia POST Collaborative has more information and FAQs, as well as a Virginia POST form.
Washington Yes Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 43.70.480 Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Washington State Medical Association has more information on the Washington POLST, including links to the WA POLST form in a number of languages.
West Virginia Yes W. Va. Code §§ 16-30-3, 16-30-25 Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Find out more about WV POST at the West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care. See a sample West Virginia POST form.
Wisconsin Yes Although the form is in use, it is not (yet) specifically authorized through state laws. Provider Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) See a sample Wisconsin POST form.
Wyoming Yes Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 35-22-501 to 35-22-509 Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) The Wyoming Department of Health has more information and FAQs on the Wyoming POLST, including a Wyoming POLST form.

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