Patients and Families

Talking about your wishes during a serious, life-altering illness can be difficult, emotional and, for some of us, is a conversation we would rather avoid. But it’s a conversation you should have as an important and necessary part of good medical care. You have the right to participate in all your health care decisions – and that’s even more important near the end of life. The best way to make your preferences known is by talking with your health care provider and filling out the Oklahoma Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form, or OkPOLST.

Your health care team wants to understand your wishes and goals of care, and filling out the OkPOLST form is one of the easiest and simplest ways to do this. OkPOLST is a medical order form that empowers individuals by carefully detailing their personal wishes regarding end-of-life care. Individuals fill out the OkPOLST form together with their physician. It’s signed by all of you and then becomes a permanent part of your medical record. You can modify or revoke your OkPOLST form at any time. Your OkPOLST form will travel with you and must be honored in all health care settings, including emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes.

OkPOLST can help you make meaningful personal choices regarding your care – and ensure that every member of the health care teams understands and respects those choices.

You should have an OkPOLST form if you are:

  • Seriously ill with a life-limiting advanced illness
  • Frail and weak and have trouble performing routine daily activities
  • Afraid of losing the capacity to make your own health care decisions in the near future
  • Living in a nursing home or hospice

Make Your Wishes Known: Choices to Discuss with Your Physician and Your Family

Educate yourself by talking with your doctor about your options, and then discuss your choices with your family. How do you want to live your life in the time you have left? How much do you want to know about your illness and how much does your family know about your priorities and wishes? What are your goals in the next year or so? These are all issues you need to consider as you determine your treatment options. Having a completed OkPOLST form also will allow you to make known any personal, cultural or spiritual practices related to your care. Your quality of life during this time should be under your control.

How is OkPOLST Different from an Advance Directive?

OkPOLST complements an Advance Directive and does not replace that document. You may still need an advance directive to appoint a legal health care representative. It is recommended that all adults have an advance directive regardless of their health status. If there is a conflict between the documents, have a conversation with your physician as soon as possible to determine the most current preferences. The promise of OkPOLST is that it empowers you to make the important decisions about your end-of-life care.

Have the OkPOLST conversation with your physician.

For a detailed video describing OkPOLST, please click here.

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