States Using Electronic Lists for Users To Set Wishes at End of Life

At least three states have set up or are in the process of establishing electronic databases that contain provider orders for life-sustaining treatment forms, which carry information about what a type of end-of-life care a seriously ill patient wishes to receive in emergency situations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Patients complete POLST forms with the assistance of their doctor. Thirty-three states use or plan to use paper-based systems for POLST documents.

Electronic Databases

Oregon launched an electronic registry for POLST documents last year. The registry allows first responders to call an emergency communications center where they can confirm a patient's identity and obtain instructions from the POLST document.

About 42,000 individuals have enrolled in Oregon's system.

West Virginia plans to roll out an Internet-based system next year, according to Alvin Moss, director of the West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care. Moss added that one goal is to allow health care providers to access the system through smart phones.

Meanwhile, New York plans to launch a pilot program for a similar system next year.


The use of electronic registries for POLST forms raises privacy concerns, according to the Journal.

For example, there are concerns with giving health care professionals the information they need while maintaining patient privacy. In addition, there are concerns about the accuracy of information included in the databases (Murray, Wall Street Journal, 12/21).

to share your thoughts on this article.