POLST complements but does not replace an Advance Health Care
Directive. An Advance Directive allows individuals to appoint the person they want to speak on their behalf. It provides a broad outline of a person's wishes relating to end-of-life care and should be filled out by any adult, regardless
of one's health status. An Advance Directive does not carry the weight of a physician order, however, and is often unavailable when needed.
In contrast, POLST is designed for the seriously ill, and identifies a patient's specific wishes on key medical decisions. In addition, POLST has the force of a physician order, and is designed to travel with a patient from one setting to another.
EMS providers need to make urgent, split-second decisions. POLST helps us do that by clearly identifying patients wishes and their physicians orders.