Bioethics Blogs

POLST – Evidence of Safety & Effectiveness

The June 14, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a debate over whether the evidence on the safety and effectiveness of POLST is sufficient to warrant its broad dissemination into practice.


On the one hand, Scott Halpern and colleagues argue that “although POLST may help prevent terminally ill patients from being resuscitated or hospitalized against their will, expanding POLST beyond this narrow goal should not be advocated until POLST is clearly supported by higher levels of evidence.”

On the other hand, Susan Tolle and colleagues argue that “given almost 20 years of research on thousands of patients . . . the documented benefits of the POLST paradigm support its nationwide implementation while researchers continue to evaluate the quality of POLST decisions and assess its effects on care outcomes.”  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.