Oregonians are taking more control of their deaths, according to a new study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
Back in 1993, Oregon was the first state in the nation to introduce the POLST form. It tells your doctor what medical interventions you want at the end of life. For example, many people don’t want to be put on a feeding tube or intubated when they’re dying. They just want pain medication.
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University have found that about 45 percent of Oregonians now fill out a POLST form before they die. That’s up from about 30 percent eight years ago.
Study co-author Dr. Susan Tolle said people also fill the form out sooner — five months before death. It used to be five weeks.
“All of advanced care planning in Oregon has become the norm,” said Tolle, who directs the OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care.
While the oldest Oregonians increased their POLST usage the most, there was also a rise in POLST use by middle-aged people. The total number of people aged 95 years and older who used POLST forms before death increased 83 percent between 2010–11 and 2015–16, while those aged 45 to 64 used the forms about 19 percent more during the same time.
The data also indicate more Oregonians want extensive medical care when they die. For example, about 13 percent of POLST forms between 2015–16 requested CPR, compared with about 8 percent in 2010–11. And about 11 percent in 2015–16 requested full medical treatment, compared with about 6 percent in 2010–11.
About 65 percent of Oregonians die at home. That exceeds the American average for deaths at home.
About 60 percent of Americans die in hospice or in a hospital.