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Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a physician order that outlines a plan of care reflecting a patient’s wishes concerning care at life’s end. The POLST form is voluntary and is intended to:

  • Help you and your patient discuss and develop plans to reflect his or her wishes
  • Assist physicians, nurses, healthcare facilities, and emergency personnel in honoring a person’s wishes for life-sustaining treatment

Having a conversation with a seriously-ill patient about end-of-life issues is an important and necessary part of good medical care. POLST can provide structure for those important discussions between you and your seriously-ill patients.POLST is making a difference. Studies have shown that among patients with POLST forms treatment preferences were respected 98% of the time, and no one received unwanted CPR, intubations, intensive care or feeding tubes.

At the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC), we are here to help guide you through the use of POLST. We offer multiple trainings and resources, all designed to help you learn more about POLST, and to develop and enhance your skills for facilitating meaningful conversations with patients and families about goals of care and POLST.


POLST Physician Leadership Council

About the POLST Physician Leadership Council

The POLST Physician Leadership Council — an advisory group to the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California — is a group of California physicians representing multiple specialties who collaborate on POLST education and tools for healthcare professionals, patients, their families and others. Their goal is to assure that the health care wishes of Californians facing serious illness are elicited and honored. This group regards meaningful conversations among patients, families, and the healthcare team as the fundamental basis for advance care planning and the proper creation of the POLST form.

The POLST Physician Leadership Council promotes best practices for the use of POLST by:

  • Educating professionals and community members about documenting goals of care conversations on the POLST form,
  • Advising on POLST form development and quality improvement, and
  • Supporting innovation in POLST education and outreach.

If you are interested in contacting a physician from this group for education or guidance about the POLST form, have specific questions about POLST, or questions regarding a particular case, please Contact Us.


POLST Education

Get training on the California POLST from the California POLST experts.

View a full list of upcoming POLST trainings»

24/7 Online Training

Working with POLST for Professionals: Education through the CSU Institute for Palliative Care

This 3-hour, online, self-paced course is designed to help healthcare professionals understand the role and value of POLST, and how to employ it in documenting and honoring patient wishes.

An optional 3 Continuing Education units (CEs) are available for purchase for an additional $25.00. See website for more course details.
Register here»

FAQ for Consumers PDF

FAQ for Providers PDF

Frequently Asked Clinical Questions for Providers PDF

POLST Facts for Nonclinical Staff PDF

Helpful Phrases for Having the POLST Conversation / Frases útiles para usar en las conversaciones sobre POLST PDF
This guide walks healthcare providers through the most commonly used phrases in walking a patient and family through conversations about the POLST form. The guide includes phrases and questions in English and Spanish.

Quick Reference: Relationship Between POLST Sections A & B PDF

Quick Reference: POLST in Nursing Homes PDF

POLST in California Assisted Living Communities PDF

POLST Consumer Brochures

The POLST Consumer Brochure is available in the CCCC Online Store:

Decision Guides for Healthcare Providers on Life-Sustaining Treatments
Decision Guides is an educational series designed by the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California that explains the complex topics of life-sustaining treatments, using consumer-friendly language with evidence-based information. The Guides were developed with the help and guidance of healthcare professionals, and reflect the latest research on these interventions.

The Guides are recommended for use by healthcare professionals who treat seriously-ill patients in hospitals, palliative care units, skilled nursing facilities, hospices and medical groups. The Guides are intended to supplement conversations between patients and healthcare providers.

TOPICS INCLUDE: artificial hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), mechanical ventilation, and tube feeding.

LANGUAGES: English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese

Learn more about the Decision Guides and view samples »

COMING SOON: A series of Decision Guides for the pediatric audience is nearing completion.

POLST Videos

POLST Model Policies & Procedures
Model Policy introductory notes and comments PDF

POLST Model Policy for General Acute Care Hospitals PDF DOC

POLST Model Policy for Hospices PDF DOC

POLST Model Policy for Skilled Nursing Facilities PDF DOC

QAPI Toolkit

Designed to provide skilled nursing facilities with useful, QAPI-based tools which can be used to improve POLST utilization in California’s nursing homes and assure that residents’ end-of-life treatment wishes are understood, documented and followed.
Download the QAPI Toolkit as a PDF

What is QAPI?
QAPI stands for Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement.

QAPI is a data-driven, proactive approach to improving the quality of life, care, and services in nursing homes. The activities of QAPI involve members at all levels of the organization to: identify opportunities for improvement; address gaps in systems or processes; develop and implement an improvement or corrective plan; and continuously monitor effectiveness of interventions.

Effective QAPI programs are critical to improving the quality of life, and quality of care and services delivered in nursing homes.

POLST Presentations

What Is POLST? Presentation for Healthcare Providers PPTx

POLST Community Presentation PPTx

2014 POLST Form Changes Webinar Presentation View recording on GoToWebinar

2014 POLST Form Changes PPTx *Updated September 29, 2014