Minnesota Hospitals to give patients more control at end of life

Hospitals in Minnesota are planning to use a new tool, a document called Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which allows terminally ill patients input on end of life decisions.  POLSTs differ from advanced directives and living wills in that they are not long, complex legal documents and they are kept with other medical records. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that in La Cross, Wisconsin, where end of life planning is part of standard practice, 96 percent of the patients at the Gundersen Lutheran hospital have an advanced care directive, a POLST or both. Only 30 percent die in the hospital, compared with 50 percent nationally.

(Sources: Minneapolis Star Tribune, http://startribune.com, March 10, 2010; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, March 15, 2010)