HARRISBURG – Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) and State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom), together with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, today announced legislation to better translate the health care wishes of patients with serious health conditions into medical orders.
“We are holding this press conference today to call attention to legislation, Senate Bill 623 – my bill – and House Bill 1196, sponsored by Representative Bryan Cutler, which is designed to improve the quality of care people receive at the end of life,” said Sen. Yaw. “This legislation was crafted with the assistance of over 27 interest groups across the state, several of whom are with us today.”
The Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Program is a voluntary process designed to improve the quality of care people receive at the end of their lives by turning patient goals and preferences for care into medical orders.
As a POLST form is completed only after a discussion of end-of-life choices between a patient or his or her legal decision maker and physician, the bill would enable patients to pre-plan some aspects of their care.
With the passage of this bill, an individual’s wishes regarding treatment would be applicable in emergency medical services, health care facilities, home care and hospice settings. Advance directives often only identify a surrogate health care decision maker and lack specificity regarding a patient’s preferences should unforeseen medical conditions arise, explained Pennsylvania Medical Society President Charles Cutler, MD, MACP.
POLST forms are currently available in the Commonwealth, but do not permit direct action as a medical order can.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff