Harvard Health Letter

Making decisions about your future medical care

Legal documentation that protects a person’s future medical treatment choices is generally known as an advance directive. That umbrella term covers several documents. A living will spells out treatment preferences if a person is unable to make treatment decisions. A health care proxy form names the person who’ll make health care decisions if a person lacks the capacity to make them. A POLST (physician orders for life-sustaining treatment) turns a person’s health care preferences into a medical order that must be followed by doctors, hospital staffers, and paramedics immediately, not after legal interpretation.   
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