Updated: Aug 25, 2019
On July 1, 2013, the POST program became legally valid throughout the state of Indiana. What is the POST program? This program provides a new advance health care planning tool. It is designed for patients with an advanced chronic illness or terminal condition. The goal of this tool is to ensure that the patient’s treatment preferences are honored.
The preferences for life sustaining treatments are documented as medical orders on the POST form, including treatments like resuscitation, medical interventions, comfort care, hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, antibiotics, and artificial nutrition. It must be reviewed and signed by a physician to be activated. This form transfers throughout the health care system and the orders are valid in all settings. Use of this form should lead to better identification and respect of patient’s preferences for end of life treatment.
Does a person need both an Advance Directive for Health Care and the POST form?
Advance Directives for Health Care are generally intended for everyone. It is a legal form where you appoint someone to act as your attorney-in-fact for healthcare decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. All patients are strongly encouraged to create Advance Directives for Health Care.
On the other hand, POST forms are specifically designed for patients who are seriously ill and whose death within a year would not be a surprise to the patient’s physician. It is encouraged for seriously ill patients to ensure that their end of life treatments are honored. Completion of POST forms is highly recommended for hospitalized patients being discharged to nursing homes or to their own home with hospice or home health care. However, the use of a POST form is always voluntary. Because it is a medical order, the POST form is the document that is most likely to ensure that the patient receives the treatment that he/she wants.
In most cases, the original POST form should remain with the patient. Family members and caregivers should know where the form is located. The patient can provide a copy to his/her health care facilities so it can be kept in the file. Each patient can complete a POST form with his/her physician. If a person does not have legal capacity, a legally appointed guardian or representative can complete the POST form on his/her behalf.
If you think you or someone you know would benefit from the POST form, then you can download this form at http://www.indianapost.org/. The form must be signed by a physician to be valid.