The American Hospital Association estimates that half of Americans suffer from chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Following a diagnosis, many experience concerns about the kind of care they will receive. They may worry about how invasive it will be, and how it will affect their quality of life. Fortunately, you can proactively decide what treatments would – or would not – suit your preferences, with a MOLST.
If you are one of the half of Americans with a condition that puts your health at risk, consider working with your health care provider to create a New York Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).
By creating a MOLST, those with long-lasting or terminal conditions can ensure they receive their desired treatment should their health decline. Creating a MOLST could help you plan your treatment for an adverse health event or the end of your life.
What Is a MOLST?
A MOLST is a binding medical order detailing the types of treatment you wish to receive (or refuse). It is appropriate for those with severe medical conditions who are at risk for a life-threatening clinical event. For example, someone with heart disease may have a MOLST in place in case of a stroke.
The purpose of a MOLST is to convey clear, concise orders for health care providers who may care for you in the future across various medical settings, whether in a hospital, long-term care facility, or emergency transit. These instructions reflect your wishes and your doctor’s recommendations.
A doctor, nurse, or physician assistant can create the order with you. Both you and your provider must sign the MOLST form.
Outside of New York, a MOLST may be referred to be a different name, such as Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).
Related Planning Tools
A MOLST can be a valuable component of a long-term care plan. It should complement, but not replace, such documents as an advance directive or do-not-resuscitate order.
Advance Directives: Health Care Proxies and Living Wills
Advance directives outline your instructions regarding what types of lifesaving treatment you would be willing to receive. These documents can prove useful in situations where you are no longer able to communicate, and should be prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney.
In a Health Care Proxy, an individual appoints a health care agent, who can make medical decisions for you, including what type of care you receive, if you became unable to make those decisions yourself.
A Health Care Proxy can help those anticipating medical events that could compromise their decision-making ability. The agent is often a spouse, family member, or trusted friend. The expectation is that they will act in the patient’s best interests and make decisions according to their wishes.
A Living Will is another type of advance directive where you can detail whether you’d approve invasive treatment to prolong your life, or only treatment to keep you comfortable as you pass naturally.
Unlike a MOLST, these other types of documents don’t require the signature of a health care professional. You need not discuss your wishes with your doctor to execute a Health Care Proxy or Living Will.
Like a MOLST, a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) is a binding medical order. Written by a doctor, the DNR prevents doctors and nurses from doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your breathing or heart stops.
While a MOLST can cover a wider range of topics related to end-of-life treatment, a DNR is specific to CPR.
Benefits and Drawbacks of a MOLST
A MOLST is typically simple, limited in length, contain boxes for you to check indicating your wishes, and allows for only a brief narrative. While in many cases this simplicity is helpful, allowing medical decisions to be made swiftly, it has limitations. In some cases it may not allow for fully explaining the patient’s reasoning or detailing the care they would like to receive.
Consult an Attorney
If you are considering creating a MOLST, consider consulting with the estate planning attorneys at Kurre Schneps LLP. We can help you create a plan that may incorporate a MOLST and other directives that could be crucial to your care. By understanding how a MOLST fits into a larger estate plan, you can prepare for the future effectively.