Background: The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) began in Oregon in 1993 and has since spread nationally and internationally. Objectives: Describe and compare demographics and POLST orders in two decedent cohorts: deaths in 2010-2011 (Cohort 1) and in 2015-2016 (Cohort 2). Design: Descriptive retrospective study. Setting/Subjects: Oregon decedents with an active form in the Oregon POLST Registry. Measurements: Oregon death records were matched with POLST orders. Descriptive analysis and logistic regression models assess differences between the cohorts. Results: The proportion of Oregon decedents with a registered POLST increased by 46.6% from 30.9% (17,902/58,000) in Cohort 1 to 45.3% (29,694/65,458) in Cohort 2. The largest increase (83.3%) was seen in decedents 95 years or older with a corresponding 78.7% increase in those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, while the interval between POLST form completion and death in these decedents increased from a median of 9-52 weeks. Although orders for do not resuscitate and other orders to limit treatment remained the most prevalent in both cohorts, logistic regression models confirm a nearly twofold increase in odds for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and full treatment orders in Cohort 2 when controlling for age, sex, race, education, and cause of death. Conclusion: Compared with Cohort 1, Cohort 2 reflected several trends: a 46.6% increase in POLST Registry utilization most marked in the oldest old, substantial increases in time from POLST completion to death, and disproportionate increases in orders for more aggressive life-sustaining treatment. Based on these findings, we recommend testing new criteria for POLST completion in frail elders.
- advance care planning
- resuscitation orders
- serious illness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine