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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Sep;52(9):1424-9.

Use of the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment program in Oregon nursing facilities: beyond resuscitation status.

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School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.



Program was designed to communicate resident/surrogate treatment preferences in the form of medical orders. To assess statewide nursing facility use of the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and to identify the patterns of orders documented on residents' POLST forms.


Telephone survey; on-site POLST form review.


Oregon nursing facilities.


One hundred forty-six nursing facilities in the telephone survey; 356 nursing facility residents aged 65 and older at seven nursing facilities in the POLST form review.


A telephone survey; onsite POLST form reviews.


In the telephone survey, 71% of facilities reported using the POLST program for at least half of their residents. In the POLST form review, do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders were present on 88% of POLST forms. On forms indicating DNR, 77% reflected preferences for more than the lowest level of treatment in at least one other category. On POLST forms indicating orders to resuscitate, 47% reflected preferences for less than the highest level of treatment in at least one other category. The oldest old (> or = 85, n=167) were more likely than the young old (65-74, n=48) to have orders to limit resuscitation, medical treatment, and artificial nutrition and hydration.


The POLST program is widely used in Oregon nursing facilities. A majority of individuals with DNR orders requested some other form of life-extending treatment, and advanced age was associated with orders to limit treatments.

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