End of Life Planning (Living Wills, POLST)
In 2005, the tragic Florida case of Terri Schiavo illustrated the importance of decision making for end of life treatment. Unfortunately Ms. Schiavo had not expressed her wishes in a written document, known as a Living Will. The battle over her wishes resulted in the involvement of the federal and state government not to mention the acrimony among family members. End of life planning requires a person to consider numerous issues such as the use of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, hydration, nutrition, use of antibiotics and pain management to name a few. As part of our comprehensive planning, the Living Will is an essential document.
The medical community recently adopted the use of a document known as the Physician’s Order on Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Physicians often recommend that their patients complete and sign a POLST document oftentimes without adequate explanation as to their use. We counsel our clients on the appropriateness of this document and how it fits into a comprehensive plan.