Shots - NPR
Helen Hobbs, 93, is one Oregonian who has taken advantage of a standardized form to legally record her wishes for end-of-life care.
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It turns out Americans facing death want something they also want in life: choice.
A two-page form created in Oregon is providing insight into how people want to be cared for at the end of their lives. And the so-called POLST form — short for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment — offers far more detailed options than a simple "do not resuscitate" directive does.
Terri Schmidt, an emergency room doctor at Oregon Health and Science University, remembers the day an elderly man with congestive heart failure came into the hospital from a nursing home. The man didn't have a form, so, by law, Schmidt had to provide all the medical care possible.
"I intubated the man. I did very aggressive things. It didn't feel right at the time," says Schmidt. "There was just this sense in my mind that this is a 92-year-old very elderly person with bad heart failure. And about 15 minutes later, when I was able to get a hold of the family, they said, 'You did what? We talked about this! He didn't want it. We had a big conversation in his room about a week ago.' "
That's a situation Helen Hobbs, 93, is looking to prevent. She has filled out a form, and her doctor signed it, so it's legally enforceable.
One small step but still far away from assisted suicide.