Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)


The 1992 amendments to the Washington State Natural Death Act direct the Department of Health to: "adopt guidelines and protocols for how emergency medical personnel shall respond when summoned to the site of an injury or illness for the treatment of a person who has signed a written directive or durable power of attorney requesting that he or she not receive futile emergency medical treatment." (see RCW 43.70.480)

The department and the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) have implemented a Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment form, which will allow a person to summarize their wishes regarding end of life treatment.

The Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is a "portable" physician order form that describes the patient's care directions. It represents a way of summarizing wishes of an individual regarding life sustaining treatment identified in an advanced directive such as a Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It is intended to go with the patient from one healthcare setting to another and includes the following:

  • Patient wishes for resuscitation
  • Medical interventions
  • Antibiotics
  • Artificial feedings

Additional information regarding POLST and other end-of-life resources is on the Washington State Medical Association's website.

EMS Training Materials

Related links

Death with Dignity Act | RCW 70.245 | POLST form information | RCW 43.70.480 | WAC 246-978 | Contact us