You may have heard about a new kind of health care directive in Connecticut, called a Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. Here, we discuss what a MOLST form is and how Connecticut residents may soon be able to benefit from it.
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. The MOLST form is also designed to provide other information about your wishes for end-of-life health care, as explained next.
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. A MOLST form can be an important tool to help medical providers understand your wishes at a glance, but it is not a substitute for properly prepared advance health care directives.
Advance health care directives -- often called a living will and appointment of a health care representative in Connecticut -- 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 make a MOLST form, you do not need a DNR order, but you should still complete advance directives to provide a full set of wishes about your care.
For details about preparing health care directives, see Connecticut Advance Directives: What You Need to Know.
MOLST-type forms are now available in more than half the states in the U.S. They go by a variety of names; the most common is POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). Connecticut recently passed a law authorizing a pilot program for its own MOLST form. The pilot program will bring the MOLST to Windham and the greater Hartford area, with the intent of expanding the form's availability if all goes well.
If you are facing a serious illness and are interested in a MOLST form, you should talk with your doctor or ask about it when you enter a medical facility or health care setting. If the form is available in your area, a medical professional will help you complete the MOLST, and the form will be legally valid only if signed by a doctor or other approved health care professional. The MOLST will be placed in your medical record and will travel with you if you move from one health care setting to another. You will be able to change or cancel a MOLST at any time, as long as you are capable of communicating your wishes
To learn more about Connecticut's MOLST program, visit the website of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
For general information about how to document your health care wishes, see the Living Wills & Medical Power of Attorney section of Nolo.com.