April 12, 2017
According to Senior Housing News, the state of New Jersey is piloting an electronic database in order to make end-of-life (EOL) care forms more accessible.
The initiative is reportedly backed by the New Jersey Hospital Association and is called the Practitioners Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment (POLST) initiative, which will provide a secure database that is accessible to licensed first responders, physicians, hospital personnel, and nursing-home staff, among others.
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The new initiative—soon to be piloted in hospitals and long-term care facilities within four health care systems—electronically expands the reach of POLST forms and will build upon the progress of the POLST program thus far as well as the growing support among health policy experts encouraging increased use of EOL forms and discussions.
Governor Chris Christie signed the original POLST program into law in 2011, and since 2013, paper copies of the POLST orders have been in use, with only two copies of the EOL form made (one for patient, one for their file), which made the form hard to locate in emergency situations.
Key policy figures and state officials in support of this electronic database for POLST forms believe this will help ensure patients’ wishes are honored at all points of care such as in emergencies or after facility transfers (NJSpotlight; April, 3, 2017).
If the pilot testing of the database proves successful, New Jersey will join the handful of states who already use electronic registries for EOL patient preferences, but leaders say they want to make absolutely sure that the electronic system works seamlessly before officially designating it as the standard of care.—Amanda Del Signore