When it comes to treating pain today, we're somewhat victims of our own success. We've developed marvelous high-tech treatments that let us extend the lives of even the most serious cases. But we've yet to strike the right balance between over-treating hopeless medical conditions and under-treating the accompanying pain and suffering.
There are so many positive stories of people who are able to live out their final weeks and months with dignity and comfort because compassionate and highly trained hospice teams are there to provide comprehensive care, from pain management and skilled nursing to help with processing personal end-of-life goals and emotions.
A Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment is a legal document that is signed by a physician or nurse practitioner, outlining the type of medical care her patient should be given if critically ill. Unlike a DNR, which is active only for a particular hospitalization, the POLST is valid anywhere and anytime, unless the patient rips it up.