For Healthcare Professionals

POLST is a process that enables health care providers to facilitate good patient care. POLST provides a structure for conversations about end of life issues and patient preferences for treatment as the end of life nears. A completed POLST form turns those preferences into medical orders that follow patients across care settings.

Verbal Consent

During this COVID-19 pandemic, goals of care conversations and POLST forms may be completed without the opportunity to have an in-person conversation. The best practice to obtain consent for a tele-health conversation is to follow an organizational policy that addresses verbal consents and to fully document the conversation in the medical record. Include:

  • Who was engaged in the conversation, patient or surrogate?
  • Were family members or others included?
  • If the patient, was it clear that he/she was capable of understanding the discussion and able to make health care treatment decisions?
  • When and how is the form being transmitted to location where patient is receiving care?

As soon as possible, the patient or surrogate signature should be obtained.

Policy Guidance

When adopting POLST policies, it is recommended that the "Guidance for Health Care Professionals" and "Long-Term Care Guide" documents found in the "Implementation and Appropriate Use of POLST" section be referenced.

Palliative Care Training

Please visit the Wolff Center at UPMC to access palliative care training videos to improve your ability to have end-of-life conversations with your patients and their families. The following modules are recommended:

  • Reframing and Responding to Emotion, Part of the Goals of Care Education Series (Module 1 of 3)
  • Mapping Values, Part of the Goals of Care Education Series (Module 2 of 3)
  • Aligning and Proposing a Plan, Part of the Goals of Care Education Series (Module 3 of 3)

To access these modules, you will need to create an account and login with the Wolff Center.

Please Note: These materials are the property of UPMC. They were developed by Drs. Julie Childers, Rene Claxton and Jane Schell and powered by VitalTalk principles. Pennsylvania POLST does not own the content or materials used in any Wolff Center trainings. You can not copy or use this material without the explicit permission of UPMC. If you have questions or want other information email Robert Arnold at