HEALTH

New State Law Lets Terminal Patients Decide Treatment

Governor Christie signed a new law Dec. 21 called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST, that allows terminally ill patients to decide, with their doctors, what treatment they want. The POLST form outlines individual actions to be taken in the event the patient needs a particular treatment, like a feeding tube or resuscitation. The form must be signed by a physician to be valid. Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, one of the supporters of the bill, spoke with NJToday’s Desiree Taylor about the program.

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POLST was launched in Oregon in 1991 and currently is endorsed or developing in more than 30 states. Munoz said POLST differs from an advanced directive, which allows patients to choose a person to make medical decisions on their behalf. The POLST form outlines specific actions to be taken in certain situations, which has been discussed between the patient and physician.