Health care decisions at the end of life may include decisions that must be made when a person becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. Before that stage is reached, Oregon Right to Life recommends that a trusted person be appointed to be the one to make those decisions for the patient if he/she becomes incapacitated.
Oregon law requires that “living wills” and “durable powers of attorney” for health care decisions must be set forth on a standard form called an Advance Directive. Part B of this form is called “Appointing a Health Care Representative”. Oregon Right to Life recommends that you complete this section. Use Part B to appoint someone you trust as your health care representative to make end-of-life treatment decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making those decisions for yourself.
Part C may limit the decisions your trusted health care representative can make. Oregon Right to Life encourages you to leave Part C blank. Draw a large “X” through the pages and initial and date them.
Fill out Part D and E to finish the authorization for your health care representative. Make sure your physician, your health care representative and you have copies.
The Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is different from an Advance Directive.
The POLST form, initially designed to decrease unnecessary health care interventions at the end of life, is being promoted as a tool for decreasing healthcare costs and has several limitations:
- Becomes a physician’s order and must be followed
- Is simplistic and may not reflect current medical circumstances
- Can easily be misused
- It is inflexible and in most cases, overrides any decisions the person you have chosen to have power of attorney can make
Unless you have a prognosis of less than one year to live, Oregon Right to Life discourages filling out a POLST form.