Quick Guide to POLST and DNR

  1. POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. In Maine, the form is green and should be kept by your bed or on the refrigerator.
  2. DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate.
  3. These forms are doctors’ orders, so that they must be discussed with and signed by you and your physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner.
  4. They are used in emergency situations only (when heart or breathing stops) so that first responders know how you want to be treated.
  5. Emergency responders will always listen to you first if you are conscious, clear, and can answer questions.
  6. These forms are useful for the frail elderly or people with a terminal or life-threatening illness, who may see no benefit in being “brought back to life.”
  7. POLST form includes directions about life-sustaining measures such as CPR, intubation, antibiotic use and feeding tubes. DNR refers only to CPR.
  8. If you have a signed DNR form and enter the hospital or nursing home, your doctor must also write a DNR order in your care plan.
  9. Ask your primary care physician for a POLST form, or order one through the Maine Hospice Council (info@mainehospicecouncil.org or call 207-626-0651)