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What Is a POST Form and Do You Need One?

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shot of doctor holding patient hand as they discuss what a post form is and why someone might need oneWhen dealing with end-of-life care, there are many things to consider. One vital detail is a POST form, also known as a POLST form. If you’re a friend, family member, or caregiver of someone in hospice or palliative care, you may wonder: “What is a POST form, and why is it necessary for those who are seriously ill, frail, or dying?”

Compassus provides compassionate senior care to help ease the transition for those in hospice and palliative care. We’re here to help you understand what a POST form is, why it’s essential, and how it differs from other documents related to end-of-life care. 

What Is a POST form?

POST is an acronym for Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment. Similarly, POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The two forms are the same, consisting of one or two sheets of paper containing crucial information about caring for a person nearing the end of life. You can think of it as a portable medical order that moves with the patient, whether they receive care in their home, a retirement community, or a hospital. Caregivers frequently display the form so medical providers can easily see and refer to it in an emergency. 

How to Create a POLST Form

Generating a POST form begins with a conversation. Healthcare professionals discuss medical details with the patient or the representative before filling out the paperwork. The form outlines the patient’s wishes for medical treatment and provides directions to healthcare providers on how to respond in different scenarios.

Details on a POST form may include the following:

  • Patient information, such as name, date of birth, and social security number
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructions
  • Full, selective, or comfort-focused treatment orders
  • Medically assisted nutrition information, such as tube feeding
  • Details regarding dialysis, blood transfusions, medications, and any other specifications 

Once the details are final, a medical professional, notary public, or other authorized witness will sign the form. Completing a POST form before a crisis can ensure the patient receives care according to their wishes. It may also include a list of those authorized to make decisions on behalf of the patient.

How Do POST Forms and DNR Orders Differ?

A POST form is separate from a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. A DNR order provides instructions for healthcare professionals in end-of-life care, but it only covers CPR. Specifically, A DNR order instructs healthcare professionals to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

A POST form provides more information and specifies other medical interventions. A POST includes this information but contains additional details about the patient’s preferred life-sustaining and intensive care level. These may include:

  • Full treatments – Sustain life by all medically effective means
  • Selective treatments – Restore function while avoiding intensive care
  • Comfort-focused treatments – Manage symptoms to maximize comfort and allow natural death

If a life-threatening clinical event occurs, a POLST form can guarantee that patients receive care consistent with their values, beliefs, and goals.

How Does a POST Form Differ From an Advance Directive?

An advance directive provides more information than a POST form, including details about a healthcare agent or proxy who can make decisions on behalf of the patient. An advance directive usually also contains more thorough information about a patient’s healthcare wishes and preference for organ donation. Completing an advance directive is appropriate for anyone at any stage of health, whereas a POLST form is typically only necessary for those near the end of life. 

A POST form is not a substitute for an advance directive. Additionally, this form is only effective for a short time and must be updated periodically according to state laws. 

Learn More About a POST Form with Compassus

When it comes to end-of-life care, you may have questions and concerns. The compassionate team at Compassus is here to help. Our dedicated professionals can guide you through end-of-life planning and discuss available options. 

Compassus offers home health, hospice, and palliative care in a comfortable, caring atmosphere. We understand that making decisions about end-of-life care can be complicated, so please reach out to us at 833.380.9583 for assistance. You can also get in touch by completing our online form