Honoring patient preferences is a critical element in providing quality end-of-life care. To help physicians and other health care providers discuss and convey a patient’s wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-sustaining treatment, the Department of Health has approved a physician order form(DOH-5003), Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) , which can be used statewide by health care practitioners and facilities. MOLST is intended for patients with serious health conditions who:
- Want to avoid or receive any or all life-sustaining treatment;
- Reside in a long-term care facility or require long-term care services; and/or
- Might die within the next year.
Completion of the MOLST begins with a conversation or a series of conversations between the patient, the patient’s health care agent or surrogate, and a qualified, trained health care professional that defines the patient’s goals for care, reviews possible treatment options on the entire MOLST form, and ensures shared, informed medical decision-making. Although the conversation(s) about goals and treatment options may be initiated by any qualified and trained health care professional, a licensed physician must always, at a minimum: (i) confer with the patient and/or the patient’s health care agent or surrogate about the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, goals for care, treatment preferences, and consent by the appropriate decision-maker, and (ii) sign the orders derived from that discussion.
The MOLST form is one way of documenting a patient’s treatment preferences concerning life-sustaining treatment – providers may choose to use other forms. However, under State law, the MOLST form is the only authorized form in New York State for documenting both nonhospital DNR and DNI orders. In addition, the form is beneficial to patients and providers as it provides specific medical orders and is recognized and used in a variety of health care settings.
In hospitals and nursing homes, the form may be used to issue any orders concerning life-sustaining treatment. In the community, the form may be used to issue nonhospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and Do Not Intubate (DNI) orders, and in certain circumstances, orders concerning other life-sustaining treatment. The signed MOLST form should be transported with patients as they travel to different health care settings. The medical orders on the form need not be re-issued by the patient’s new health care provider, but should be reviewed and may be revised by a physician, when the patient transitions to a different setting and when the patient’s preferences and/or medical conditions change.