Advocates for those nearing the end of their lives say a new program will help ensure patients receive the exact type of care they want no matter where they are.
Indiana’s new physician orders for scope of treatment, or POST, program is aimed at creating consistency in the health care system for those approaching the end of life, whether from old age or disease.
At its most basic, POST is a form that patients and physicians fill out that details exactly what type of care the person wants, and Representative Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), who is also a doctor, says that form will travel with the patient no matter where they are treated.
“At the present time, each individual hospital, each individual nursing home, each assisted living unit, each hospice care service, they have their own set of forms and criteria and so this form will be more standardized so it will be able to communicate what the patient’s wishes are,” he says.
The form includes directives on whether to resuscitate, whether the patient wants antibiotics or a feeding tube and how aggressive their care should be such as the use of intubation or ventilation.
Susan Hickman is a professor at the IU School of Health and co-chairs an organization that is helping lead implementation of POST. She says the form also fosters discussion about care that often does not take place.
“It doesn’t dictate whether you should or shouldn’t have treatments,” Hickman says. “It allows people to document preferences to have or decline interventions, but it does prompt that conversation so that people can start making thoughtful and deliberate decisions rather than accepting the default unknowingly.”
Hickman says while the program likely will not be fully rolled out statewide for several years, both Fort Wayne and Bloomington have expressed a desire to become pilot sites for what she calls intensive implementation of POST.