|February 27, 2019 11:14 AM
|Representative Paul Schemel
|All House members
|Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
|In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that would amend Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to update and revise Pennsylvania law to include the codification of Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) to be used by medical professionals across all health care settings for patients who voluntarily wish to execute a POLST order. POLST orders are different from advance directives in that POLST orders convert an individual’s wishes regarding health care into a medical order that is immediately actionable and applicable across all health care settings. In contrast, advance directives often only name a surrogate decision-maker to make health care decisions for the individual or often lack specificity as to the individual’s goals and preferences for a medical condition that subsequently develops because it was not foreseen by the individual.
POLST legislation was offered during the 2017-18 session but failed to gain the support of all parties engaged in providing healthcare for the elderly, specifically, it did not have the support of the 44 Catholic hospitals and nursing facilities in Pennsylvania. This legislation includes a compromise, which should suit the objectives of all parties. The compromise language clarifies that a POLST is only appropriate for an individual with a life limiting and irreversible condition.
Rep. Cutler offered the 2017-18 POLST legislation and his co-sponsorship memo provided a detailed explanation of what a POLST is and how it is used by medical providers. The description below in bold is taken from Rep. Cutler’s memo of last session.
In 2006, Title 20 was amended by Act 169 to update the procedures for living wills, health care powers of attorney and out-of-hospital do not resuscitate (OOH-DNR) orders. In addition, Act 169 created a committee to assist the Department of Health (DOH) in determining the advisability of using a standardized form containing orders by qualified physicians that detail the scope of medical treatment for patients’ life-sustaining wishes. However, Act 169 did not mandate the use of a POLST form as a medical order. My legislation will codify a POLST form that may be used by individuals wishing to designate end of life wishes and discontinue the use of OOH-DNR orders following the effective date of my legislation.
The first part of our legislation will update Chapter 54 of Title 20 to include the recognition of POLST orders. The majority of our legislation creates new Subchapter F known as the Pennsylvania Order for Life Sustaining Treatment Act. New Subchapter F will:
Introduced as HB987